The Amazon Labor Union victory in April in New York, led by fired employee Christian Smalls, is among the most remarkable in a series of landmark labor wins over the past year.

The Amazon Labor Union’s landmark victory at a Staten Island warehouse should be upheld, a United States labor board official has recommended, dealing a major setback to Inc.’s efforts to have the vote overturned.

A hearing officer who handled Amazon’s appeal of the union’s victory concluded that the company “has not met its burden” to prove that the union, the government or anyone else “engaged in objectionable conduct affecting the results of the election,” National Labor Relations Board spokesperson Kayla Blado said in an email.

Amazon ranks No. 1 in the Top 1000, Digital Commerce 360’s database of the largest North American e-retailers by web sales. It is also No. 3 on the Global Online Marketplaces database.

Qualms with the Amazon Labor Union

Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel said the company was still reviewing the decision.

“We strongly disagree with the conclusion and intend to appeal,” Nantel said. “As we showed throughout the hearing with dozens of witnesses and hundreds of pages of documents, both the NLRB and the ALU [Amazon Labor Union] improperly influenced the outcome of the election and we don’t believe it represents what the majority of our team wants.”


Amazon had managed to keep unions out of its U.S. operations for more than a quarter-century. The Seattle-based company had argued in a filing that the labor board repeatedly “failed to protect the integrity and neutrality of its procedures.”

Amazon has until Sept. 16 to file objections to the hearing officer’s recommendation. A regional director from the agency will then hear the objections. If the company fails to persuade the agency to overturn the vote results, it will be legally required to negotiate with the union over pay and working conditions at the Staten Island warehouse. Employers sometimes refuse to negotiate even after exhausting their appeals at the labor board. That leads to lengthy litigation in federal court. The NLRB lacks the power to impose punitive damages on companies for noncompliance.

The Amazon Labor Union victory in April in New York is part of a series of labor wins this year. They include successful union elections at Starbucks Corp., Trader Joe’s and Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc.

“To have a contract for Amazon workers in this country would be monumental for the labor movement,” Smalls said Thursday. “We always were confident that we beat them fair and square.”


Sign up  

Start your complimentary subscription to Digital Commerce 360 News to stay informed on the latest news and trends in ecommerce. 

Follow us on LinkedInTwitter and Facebook. Be the first to know when Digital Commerce 360 publishes news content.