Amazon workers near Albany voted against establishing a union at a warehouse
Amazon workers near Albany voted against establishing a union at a warehouse AFP

Workers at an Amazon warehouse near Albany voted decisively against establishing a union, US officials announced Tuesday, dealing a setback to the fledgling labor drive at the e-commerce behemoth.

The tally was 406 against Amazon Labor Union's (ALU) proposal and 206 in support of the organization, said a spokeswoman for the National Labor Relations Board.

The election marks the second straight defeat for the ALU, which surged to prominence in April following its upset win at a large Staten Island warehouse that voted to become Amazon's first US facility to unionize.

The ALU did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but the group's president, Christian Smalls, said on Twitter before the counting that he was "proud" of the effort regardless of the outcome.

"Taking on a Trillion dollar company can never be a loss for workers," Smalls tweeted.

"We will continue to empower all workers to give them the right to unionize. You miss 100% of the shots you don't take!"

Amazon, which has continued to contest its defeat in the first Staten Island vote, said it was pleased with Tuesday's outcome.

"We're glad that our team in Albany was able to have their voices heard, and that they chose to keep the direct relationship with Amazon as we think that this is the best arrangement for both our employees and customers," said spokesperson Kelly Nantel.

The elections at Amazon have come amid a wave of labor drives at consumer-facing companies, including Starbucks, Apple, REI and Chipotle, all of which have voted to unionize one or more store or restaurant.

But Amazon's initial victory in Staten Island was on a much bigger scale, providing a jolt to the US labor movement while propelling Smalls and other ALU leaders to prominence.

Smalls, a former Staten Island Amazon worker, and other current and ex-employees established the group 2021, denouncing Amazon's rigid workforce practices during the pandemic and arguing a union was the way towards better pay and benefits.

But after prevailing in the 8,000 employee JFK8 warehouse, the ALU had also lost a second election in May at the smaller LDJ5 warehouse, which is also in Staten Island.

Besides trying to spread the ALU to new Amazon sites, the union's leaderships is also facing barriers in getting Amazon to come to the bargaining table to recognize the union and negotiate a contract.

Amazon has refused to accept the election outcome in the first Staten Island vote, arguing the results should be tossed out in light of alleged improprieties.

Last month, an NLRB official rejected Amazon's claims as groundless after a 24-day hearing on the e-commerce giant's claims.

But Amazon has said it plans to appeal that decision.