Workers stand in line to cast ballots for a union election at Amazon’s JFK8 distribution center, in the Staten Island borough of New York City, U.S. March 25, 2022.
Brendan Mcdermid | Reuters
Employees at an Amazon warehouse on New York’s Staten Island were leaning toward unionizing as of Thursday afternoon.
According to preliminary results provided by the National Labor Relations Board, the pro-union side had 717 votes to 581 for those opposed. The union could still lose its lead as there are still likely thousands of additional ballots left to count and an unknown number of challenged ballots. The facility employs about 6,000 people.
Should the voting trend continue, Amazon’s largest fulfillment center in New York would be its first in the country to favor unionization. For months, organizers have fought hard to activate support at the facility, which is known as JFK8, while Amazon has worked diligently to oppose the effort, even hiring an influential consulting and polling firm with close ties to Democratic political groups.
Employees at JFK8 began casting their ballots Friday of last week. The vote wrapped up Wednesday, and the NLRB will resume counting the remaining ballots Friday morning.
The Amazon Labor Union has called on Amazon to raise wages, along with other demands for better health and safety after warehouse workers and truckers were forced to power through the Covid-19 pandemic. Amazon recently raised its average starting pay to $18 an hour, and the company has been touting benefits such as health care, vacation time and opportunities for improving job skills.
As the vote count continues on Staten Island, a similar election is taking place 1,000 miles to the south in Bessemer, Alabama. Workers there were unsuccessful in a unionization drive last year, but the NLRB ordered a do-over because of improper interference.
That vote in Bessemer currently favors the anti-union side, based on a preliminary and unofficial tally. Roughly 39% of the 6,143 eligible voters cast their ballots in the election, lower than the turnout of about 55% last spring.