NY Workers Win First-Ever Amazon Union

April 1, 2022 by Madeline Hughes
NY Workers Win First-Ever Amazon Union
Staten Island based Amazon.com Inc distribution center union organizer Chris Smalls celebrates with union members after getting the voting results to unionize the Amazon warehouse on Staten Island, N.Y., Friday, April 1, 2022, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Employees at a Staten Island Amazon Warehouse are the first to successfully vote to unionize in the tech company’s history.

On April 1, the Amazon Labor Union tallied 2050 “yes” votes and 1574 “no” from workers, who decided to unionize by a 476 vote margin.

This is the second group of warehouse employees to vote on unionization this week.

The first tally of the vote in Bessemer, Alabama, shows employees declining a union by just under 100 votes, but around 416 votes were challenged by both Amazon and the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union and could change that outcome. 


Unionization had previously failed at the Bessemer warehouse last year, but the National Labor Relations Board ruled the union could have another vote because of what it called at the time “illegal misconduct.”

Amazon has been accused of “union-busting” by many advocates, including Jumaane D. Williams, the public advocate for the City of New York.


“This victory marks a momentous occasion in the history of the worker justice movement and in the lives of the Amazon workers at JFK8, who have today won recognition as a union in their ongoing effort to secure better workplace protections, higher wages, and true job security,” Williams said in a statement released by his office. 

“In the face of the aggressive, expensive, union-busting effort that Amazon has engaged in, I’m inspired by the workers who refused to be intimidated. Who continued to organize, to vote, to demand what they deserve. I’m honored to have spoken with them, stood with them, and today, to celebrate with them,” Williams said.

The Amazon Labor Union was created solely to represent Amazon workers by former employees, including its president, Chris Smalls. Smalls worked at the JFK8 warehouse, where employees voted to unionize, before being fired from the company after organizing protests about the unsafe COVID-19 protocols.

The New York-based union is set for another vote at another Staten Island warehouse later this month starting April 25.


Amazon is “disappointed” in the vote because “we believe having a direct relationship with the company is best for our employees,”  according to a statement posted to its website. The company will be looking into fighting the unitization through legal measures, according to its statement.

Madeline can be reached at [email protected]

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Updates

This story was updated to include Amazon's response.

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