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Labor board rejects Amazon’s objections to union victory

The decision, which has to be ratified by a director, will probably make Amazon Labor Union the first to be certified at the company

An Amazon Labor Union organizer greets workers in Staten Island. (Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters)

Federal labor regulators will throw out Amazon’s objections to a labor union’s historic victory at one of the e-commerce behemoth’s warehouses in New York.

In April, the Amazon Labor Union (ALU) became the first to win an election at Amazon, but the company has held up the proceedings in an objection hearing that dragged on for months.

On Thursday, a hearing officer with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) said they intend to throw out Amazon’s objections, clearing a path for the union to become the first certified bargaining unit within the company’s vast e-commerce empire.

Both sides have until Sept. 16 to file additional exceptions, the NLRB’s Kayla Blado said in an email.

Amazon workers vote to join union in historic victory

“While we’re still reviewing the decision, we strongly disagree with the conclusion and intend to appeal," said Amazon’s Kelly Nantel in a statement. "As we showed throughout the hearing with dozens of witnesses and hundreds of pages of documents, both the NLRB and the ALU improperly influenced the outcome of the election and we don’t believe it represents what the majority of our team wants.”

(Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

“After dealing with all of that virtual court, it feels good to finally have celebratory news,” Chris Smalls, leader of the ALU, said in a statement. “We’re hoping that the NLRB certifies it so we can get some rights in the building and protect workers in the building.”

The news is a win for the organized labor movement, which has continued to work toward unionizing Amazon this summer. New organizing campaigns have sprung up in Kentucky, California and North Carolina, and Amazon workers at a warehouse near Albany, N.Y., are slated to vote on unionization in the coming months.

Amazon workers in Albany, N.Y., file for a union election

Amazon has accused the NLRB regional office of being biased against the company, and it’s possible the company could sue over the outcome. Its tactics could delay contract bargaining, a process that itself could take months or years to complete.

Established labor unions like the American Federation of Teachers have pledged to support ALU, which is a nascent, independent organization that has been spread thin in recent months as dozens of workers have charged Amazon with unfair labor practices. The union lost a second election at a smaller warehouse in New York shortly after its win in Staten Island in May.

“This was an outrageous union busting campaign by Amazon and we’re demanding the company come to table to bargain in faith as it’s required to under the law,” ALU attorney Seth Goldstein said in a statement.