Amazon Faces Its Second New York Union Vote Today

Image Credit: Getty Images, Sundry Photography.

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Every heavyweight title fight needs a rematch, or at least it did back when boxing didn’t trail the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in ratings — in other words, when Rocky and Sweet Pea were sooner the names of prize fighters than prize pooches.

Today, a humbled Amazon will face off in a rematch against The Amazon Labor Union (ALU), the group that organized the first-ever US-based union at the company. Win or lose, the second vote on New York’s Staten Island has Wall Street’s attention.

Union Pride vs. Corporate Greed

Last month’s historic pro-union vote at JFK8, an Amazon warehouse on Staten Island, was seen by many as a shocking upset, especially after Amazon successfully defeated union drives in Alabama by the more established Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union.

The ALU opted not to move on to bigger things, aiming instead to persuade workers at a smaller nearby warehouse, called LDJ5, to turn union. LDJ5, then, is where the National Labor Relations Board will be counting votes today. Organizers are making the same promises to workers — more and longer breaks, better job security, and an hourly wage of $30 (up from $18) — that earned enough YES ballots last time. Still, unionization at LDJ5 is anything but a shoo-in:

  • There are just 1,500 workers at the LDJ5 facility, compared to 8,300 at JFK8; and only 10 union organizers, compared to the 30 at the last union drive. They must contend with Amazon’s vast resources as well as the mandatory company meetings on the subject of why they should vote against the union. “It’s a much more personal, aggressive fight over here,” Connor Spence, an Amazon employee, and union VP, told the Associated Press.
  • According to company filings, Amazon spent $4.3 million on anti-union consultants in 2021. If the e-commerce giant wins today, that expense may turn out to be a bargain, considering what’s happening over at Starbucks.

Bitter Joe: Starbucks executives have failed to tame a nascent labor movement, with at least 40 locations voting to unionize and 250 petitioning to hold votes. Since anti-union former-CEO-turned-CEO-again Howard Schulz took over earlier this month, the company’s stock is down 15% and the labor quandary has become one spicy latte. Researchers at Citi warned growing unionization could hurt the stock, but other analysts have suggested pushing back against unions could turn off investors with an alphabet agenda — naturally, we mean ESG (environmental, social, and governance issues).