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Amazon ramps up anti-union message ahead of NYC worker vote

Amazon is pounding workers at a Staten Island warehouse with an anti-union message ahead of a vote this week on whether they want to form a union. In recent days, the e-commerce giant has sent letters to workers’ homes, called them on the phone, posted anti-union messages at its facility — including in the bathrooms, hallways above ATMS and other common areas — according to a Vice report. The company is also buying ads on Facebook and Instagram in March, with captions including, “The ALU can’t guarantee anything it is promising” and “When you know, you vote NO.” The ads have been seen more than 20,000 times by people in New York and New Jersey since they were placed last week, according to Meta records. And Amazon set up a website that criticizes the independent organization spearheading the union drive – Amazon Labor Union – for “making big promises but offering very little detail on how they will achieve them.” The site warns workers that union dues could cost them “hundreds of dollars each year from your paycheck.” The website says ALU “has no experience representing any associates, anywhere” and the organization has “never managed the millions of dollars they would receive from your paychecks.” The voting at the JFK8 facility on Staten Island, which employs about 7,500 workers, will begin on March 25 and continue through March 30. They could become the first group of Amazon employees to be unionized in the United States if they vote for a union, though Amazon warns that they shouldn’t. The effort is being led by a former Amazon worker – Chris Smalls – who was fired in 2020 after he says he complained about safety and working conditions at the facility during the pandemic. Amazon said he violated the company’s safety policies. Smalls is spearheading the effort without the backing of an existing union and experts say the odds are stacked against him. He is also organizing a second facility on Staten Island that will initiate a vote the week of April 25. “We’ve had plenty of small victories along the way,” Smalls told The Wall Street Journal. “We want to apply pressure and can still make more changes. We want to put workers in the driver’s seat.” At the same time, employees at a facility in Bessemer, Ala. are currently voting – for a second time – on whether to form a union. Amazon won the first vote last year, but the National Relations Labor Board ruled that the company interfered with the vote and ordered a new election. The NLRB said Amazon engaged in “objectionable conduct” during the labor campaign, including the alleged use of surveillance cameras where workers dropped off their ballots at a mailbox on the company’s property. The union spearheading the Bessemer campaign, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Stores Union, has alleged that Amazon is interfering with this second election as well. Amazon has denied those allegations. The company did not immediately respond for comment about the Staten Island vote.

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