A fledgling union of workers in four Amazon warehouses on Staten Island on Monday officially called for an election to form a union, the National Labor Relations Board said.
The organizers behind the union action have been collecting signatures on cards that must be submitted to the job center to request a vote for months. Christian Smalls, a former Amazon employee who led the effort, said late last week that he expected to submit more than 2,000 employee signatures.
If the labor council determines that the entry represents 30 percent of the proposed negotiating unit, the effort could bring the second union vote at an Amazon warehouse in less than a year.
Kayla Blado, the press secretary for the National Labor Relations Board, said the agency was still counting its cards.
Derrick Palmer, an Amazon employee who helped lead the effort, said he was excited about the submission after many months of organizing.
“I believe we have enough votes to go through to our election,” he said in an interview as he waited outside the Brooklyn job center office where the cards were counted.
Amazon was “skeptical that a sufficient number of legitimate employee signatures have been secured to warrant an election,” said Kelly Nantel, a company spokeswoman, in a statement. “When there are elections, we want the voice of our employees to be heard and look forward to it. Our focus remains to listen directly to our employees and continuously improve on their behalf.”
The Staten Island effort is being organized by current and former Amazon workers with the goal of forming a new independent union called the Amazon Labor Union, which focuses solely on the country’s second-largest employer.
An election in an Amazon warehouse in Alabama earlier this year, backed by a national retail workers union, was unsuccessful. But the labor office is considering throwing out the election results because of Amazon’s anti-union measures. Amazon has said it will appeal if the vote is declared invalid.
Monday’s entry is the culmination of six months of organizing centered on a massive warehouse on Staten Island known as JFK8, which serves as Amazon’s main pipeline to New York City and employs more than 5,000 people. Over time, the organizers expanded their pursuit to include three smaller Amazon facilities in the same industrial park.
JFK8 employees have accused Amazon of illegally interfering with their organizational rights. Personnel lawyers at the labor council have found some merit in pursuing three of their cases and are investigating six more, the agency said.