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Amazon warehouse workers vote against joining union

The news: Amazon workers in New York voted against joining the Amazon Labor Union on Monday, delivering a setback to Big Tech’s burgeoning labor movement, per Reuters.

More on this: The defeat for labor organizers came via 618 votes cast against unionizing versus 380 votes for union representation. About 1,600 workers at the warehouse were eligible to vote, per The New York Times. 

"We're glad that our team at LDJ5 were able to have their voices heard," Kelly Nantel, an Amazon spokesperson, told NPR. "We look forward to continuing to work directly together as we strive to make every day better for our employees."

  • The results still need to be approved by America's National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
  • The defeat comes after a historic win in a nearby NYC warehouse, JFK8, which voted in favor of joining the union a month ago.
  • More than 50 Amazon warehouses in the US have reached out to the Amazon Labor Union (ALU) after JFK8’s successful unionization vote, said Chris Smalls, president of the union, according to NPR.
  • There’s an industry-wide trend of worker unionization in Big Tech, which companies are fighting hard to counter
  • Amazon has been aggressive in its efforts to defeat organizing activity, employing various resources to dissuade employees from joining unions.
  • Apple workers have similarly started to unionize, with the most recent move happening in Maryland. 

What’s next: Amazon’s workers’ vote against unionization in one of their busiest distribution centers is a setback for organized labor in Big Tech. Since labor movements come in waves, this defeat could stifle the momentum of several union actions. 

Conversely, companies like Amazon could decide that union-busting is effective, and they could redouble efforts to stop movements in their tracks. 

  • Growing employee dissatisfaction could continue to drive labor movements.
  • “While tech workers make much more than a factory worker on an absolute basis, they’re making a similarly small proportion of the revenue their employers generate, and unions help to balance that out,” said Andrew Duffy, CEO and co-founder of SparkPlug, an employee incentive management platform. “Smart Big Tech employers will have to think holistically about how they can meet their employees in the middle and compromise across multiple motivations for their workers.” 
  • Workers from more than 100 Amazon buildings have reached out to the ALU in the past month to discuss organizing, so there’s more labor activity to come.