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Amazon workers at Southern California warehouse file for union election in potential first for state

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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

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Employees at the warehouse, located in Moreno Valley, California, are seeking to be represented by the Amazon Labor Union, a grassroots group of current and former Amazon workers that successfully unionized a Staten Island warehouse, referred to as JFK8, earlier this year.

Should an election be authorized by the National Labor Relations Board at ONT8, it would be the first time employees at an Amazon facility in California have held a vote on whether to join a union.

Kayla Blado, a spokesperson for NLRB, confirmed organizers at ONT8 filed a petition with the agency on Tuesday for a proposed unit of 800 workers. Blado said the NLRB is waiting for additional paperwork from the union before it can begin to verify that the group has obtained a showing of interest, which would indicate that it’s met the required threshold for employee signatures.

ALU leader Chris Smalls said in a tweet that a petition was filed, and he congratulated the workers for taking steps to organize their facility. “More details to come,” he added.

Representatives from Amazon didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The move adds to a recent upswing of labor organizing among Amazon workers. The historic vote at Amazon’s JFK8 warehouse kicked off further unionization attempts at other facilities, including at a site near Albany, where workers are slated to begin voting on Wednesday on whether to join the ALU. The election wraps up on Oct. 17, and the NLRB will start tallying ballots the following day.

ONT8 is part of the Inland Empire, a region located east of Los Angeles that’s been a major focus of development for Amazon and other e-commerce companies. Warehouses and delivery hubs have rapidly sprung up in recent years, raising concerns about pollution and other environmental harms.

Amazon is the region’s largest private employer, with about 40,000 workers. The company employed more than 1.6 million people globally as of the end of 2021.

Workers at a major Amazon air hub in nearby San Bernardino recently held walkouts to demand pay increases and highlight safety concerns. They pledged to walk out again this week, alongside people at facilities in Georgia and Illinois, in time for Amazon’s fall Prime Day discount event, to urge the company to respond to employee concerns around working conditions.

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