Newest Amazon Labor Union Movement in CA

Amazon has seen a strong influx of labor action ever since the successful formation of the Amazon Labor Union earlier this year in April. After the successful vote to unionize in Staten Island, NY, the ALU has been supporting Amazon workers pursuing unionization across the country.

Three major union movements have occurred since then.

First, in May, workers at Amazon facility LDJ5 in Staten Island, NY, voted against unionization. Next, on Oct. 18, a unionization vote at ALB1 in Albany, NY, voted 406 to 206 against unionizing.

Most recently, workers at the Amazon ONT8 fulfillment center located in Monero Valley, California, have been pushing to arrange a vote to unionize.

The first filings with the National Labor Relations Board began on  Oct. 12. The petition to vote for unionization originally classified the eligible workers as “All hourly full-time and regular-part time In-bound and Out-bound fulfillment center Associates … including all employees in the unit who have worked an average of four (4) hours or more per week during the 13 weeks immediately preceding the eligibility date for the election,” which was an estimated 800 individuals.

Amazon issued a formal challenge on Oct. 20 that “The actual number of current Amazon associates in the petitioned-for unit is 2,645” and challenged that ALU collected the required support of 30% workers. The NLRB accepted the newly proposed number of 2,645 eligible individuals at the ONT8 facility. A day after the Amazon challenge and its acceptance, ALU withdrew its request to represent.

The NLRB case files do not seem to tell the whole story though.

Nannette Plascencia, a worker at ONT8 and organizer of the push for unionization, commented in an interview with World Outlook and RandomLengthNews that “Since Amazon wouldn’t provide us with their number, 800 was our best guess … We had to (withdraw) because we don’t have 30% of that high number. A lot of my coworkers are in shock because nobody ever thought we had that many workers here. We work here every day and we do not see those numbers.”

RandomLengthNews wrote that “Exaggerating the size of the workforce is right out of Amazon’s union-busting playbook. In November 2021, at the giant JFK8 fulfillment center in Staten Island, the ALU withdrew its signatures after being told that it didn’t reach the required threshold of 30%.”

While labor relations are one concern of the ONT8 movement, other considerations include workload, management and fair pay.

Time Off Task is a metric that Amazon employs to track how workers spend their time on the clock. 

Plascencia elaborated, “If you go to the bathroom, or you stop to pick something up that fell on the floor, or the line jams — which is out of your control — it’s all going to show as TOT. With TOT, you don’t get a warning, you don’t get written up, you can go straight to a firing. Amazon calls it ‘stealing time from the company.’”

She also described Amazon’s usage of Unpaid Time Off as a way to discipline tardiness or delayed arrival: “We earn UPT in minutes, but it can only be taken in increments of hours. So, if I have to use a minute of UPT because I’m a minute late, they will actually take one hour away from my UPT bank.”

Plascencia also commented on the stagnant pay rate while taking on more work. “This year we got a 5% raise. But with the increase in the medical plan, we aren’t really getting any raise at all. We got a CEO that makes $214 million. Why does he get to decide I’m only worth $19.25 an hour?”