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Unionization vote at Amazon facility in Schodack, New York fails

Amazon ALB1 union campaign organizer Heather Goodall shakes hands with supporters after Tuesday's tally in Albany. (Lucas Willard / WAMC)
Amazon ALB1 union campaign organizer Heather Goodall shakes hands with supporters after Tuesday's tally in Albany. (Lucas Willard / WAMC)

(WAMC) - A unionization effort at Amazon’s fulfillment center in Rensselaer County failed Tuesday.

Lucas Willard NER Amazon 10-18-22 NO TAG

The National Labor Relations Board tallied the votes of the union election at Amazon’s ALB1 facility in Schodack.

According to the NLRB, 406 workers voted against unionizing, with 206 voting in favor. More than 800 are employed at the million-square-foot facility.

While the vote is not what Schodack union organizer Heather Goodall hoped for, she said she was proud of all the workers who spoke up.

“Eight months ago when I started at Amazon, the world ‘union’ was forbidden…”

It was the second defeat for the Amazon Labor Union, which formed after workers at a Staten Island facility voted to organize last spring. A second facility there declined to unionize.

Amazon still objects to the successful Staten Island vote.

During the union drive, supporters in Schodack drew attention to workplace injuries, safety issues including a recent fire, and wages they say haven’t kept up with the competition.

Goodall credits union supporters with forcing change in recent weeks.

“We now are seeing repairs in the building. We just saw a raise. We just saw people getting promoted. So at the end of the day, this actually worked to our advantage,” said Goodall.

The vote in Schodack was closely watched by the local labor community.

Ibrahim Pedriñán, President of the Albany County Central Federation of Labor, said the push for a union at Amazon helped energize other local organizing efforts. He and a handful of other labor leaders gathered outside the NLRB office.

“There really is an energy around organizing. There is really an understanding that for too long workers have been kept down and that workers deserve a voice and a vote and deserve more than what their bosses will ever give them or ever tell them,” said Pedriñán.

The Capital Region has seen unionizing efforts in recent months at several Starbucks locations, Joseph’s House and Shelter in Troy, and among non-tenured faculty at Skidmore College – which hosts a WAMC news bureau.

Meantime, Amazon is welcoming the results in Schodack.

The retailer said it will continue to “work directly” with its employees, adding it believes it to be the “best arrangement” for workers and customers.

After Tuesday’s tally, Amazon Labor Union President Chris Smalls called it a “sham election,” adding workers were subjected to intimidation and retaliated against – claims Amazon denies.

Smalls said the vote “won’t be the end” of ALU at ALB1.

Meantime, the ALU is organizing in Southern California, where workers recently filed for a union election.

Copyright 2022 WAMC.