Amazon warehouse workers in New York City voted against forming a union on Monday, dealing a blow to organizers who last month pulled off the first successful U.S. organizing effort in the retail giant’s history.
Votes were still being tabulated, but ballots cast against the union were enough to fend off a second win for the nascent Amazon Labor Union (ALU), a group of former and current workers at the company leading the organizing effort.
Ballots that were challenged by either Amazon or the ALU were not enough to sway the outcome.
In a tweet, the Amazon Labor Union vowed to continue its efforts. “The fight has just begun,” the group wrote.
A separate election held last month gave the ALU a surprise victory when workers at a different Staten Island facility voted in favor of unionizing. That was a first for Amazon in the U.S.
In the lead-up to the election, Amazon continued to hold mandatory meetings to persuade its workers to reject the union effort, posted anti-union flyers and launched a website urging workers to “vote NO.”
“Right now, the ALU is trying to come between our relationship with you,” a post on the website reads. “They think they can do a better job advocating for you than you are doing for yourself.”
In a tweet after the vote results, the ALU pointed to the resources of corporations that can be diverted to anti-union efforts.
“Mega-corporations continue to spend millions in union-busting + fear tactics & we continue to organize for a society not based on exploitation & greed,” the group said.
Union membership has been dropping for decades, but interest in organized labor has increased during the pandemic. Starbucks, for one, is facing an increase in unionization efforts at its coffee shops, while grad students and delivery drivers are also organizing. These efforts come amid nationwide labor shortages and as a record number of Americans quit their jobs, providing more leverage to workers who want to unionize.
Organized labor is also garnering more public support. An August survey by Gallup found approval of unions at a more than 50-year high, with 68% of Americans saying they favored unions.