How do the elections work?

In simplified form, the union election process can involve the following seven steps. We are currently between step 5 (election victory!) and step 6 (post-election hearing) at JFK8, and we are between step 3 (election agreement) and step 4 (voting!) at LDJ5.  

You can click on each step to see more details about how it works:

1. Petition for Election

To hold an official election for union representation through the National Labor Relations Board, the union must submit a formal petition to the NLRB, along with cards declaring support for the union to act as "collective bargaining agent" (the representative for new contract negotiations) signed by at least 30% of the workers who will be represented in the "collective bargaining unit" (the group of workers who will be covered by the new contract). Supervisory level positions, for instance, are generally restricted by law from inclusion in the bargaining unit, because of their divergent interests and power imbalance.

The ALU has already successfully filed two petitions for elections with the NLRB, for the workers in the JFK8 and in LDJ5 warehouses in Staten Island. The workers at JFK8 voted for the ALU in our historic first election by a margin of over 500 votes. 

For more detailed information on the election petition see the Unit Unionizing Guide's section on "Certification and recognition: the first steps towards bargaining empowerment."

2. Pre-Election Hearing

After the NLRB accepts a petition for election and counts the cards, a date is set for a hearing with the union representatives, company representatives, and NLRB officials, and Amazon has to notify all of the workers about the petition both in the buildings and through the AtoZ platform. The hearing itself has several substeps:

(2a) Identifying Disputed Issues: Prior to the hearing, both parties may present issues to dispute, which will be litigated in the hearing, and may take additional time to resolve.

(2b) Litigation of Eligibility and Inclusion Issues: Generally the issues that the NLRB will consider in the hearing are whether the cards filed represent eligible workers in the bargaining unit and which classes of workers should qualify to be included in the bargaining unit. Issues that don't have to be resolved in order to determine if an election should be held will generally be deferred to the post-election stage and may be disregarded entirely if they have no impact on the election results.

(2c) Post-Hearing Oral Argument and BriefsBoth sides have an opportunity for oral argument before the close of the hearing. Written briefs are allowed only if the regional director determines they are necessary.

For more details about the steps below, see the NLRB Representation Case-Procedures Fact Sheet.

3. Election Agreement

NLRB representatives work with both sides to establish an election agreement that includes the date, time, place, and eligible voters. If the two parties cannot come to an agreement on the terms of the election, the NLRB may decide them according to its own rules and decisions.

4. Election Begins

For an in-person election, voting is scheduled for certain dates and times at the worksite, with NLRB representatives administering and overseeing the election. 

If the election is by mail, dates are scheduled for ballots to be mailed to all eligible employees and a period of several weeks will be set for the ballots to be mailed back to the NLRB. Amazon must stop captive audience meetings at this point, but worker organizers can talk to workers at home to discuss the benefits of voting for the union.

5. Vote Count

The NLRB counts the votes—beginning a few days after the end of the voting period if by mail—and if the union wins approval from more than 50% of the workers who voted, then we win the election. The ALU has already won one historic election at JFK8.

6. Post-Election Hearing

Either side can make objections to the fairness of the election by filing for a post-election hearing with the NLRB Regional Director within seven days of the election. The post-election hearing, if applicable, takes place within three weeks after the vote count. The Regional Director's decisions on any objections can be appealed by either side to be reconsidered by the NLRB board in Washington D.C.

The NLRB can set aside the results of the election of they determined that either side created an "atmosphere of confusion or fear of reprisals and thus interfered with the employees' freedom of choice." The NLRB made such a ruling against Amazon's actions in the Bessemer, Alabama election, and ruled for a new election to be held.

7. Union Certification

If there are no objections to the election, or they are not found by the NLRB to be valid, and the union wins a majority of the ballots cast, then the NLRB certifies the union as the employees' bargaining representative and must be recognized by the employer as the exclusive bargaining agent for the employees in the bargaining unit. If Amazon management refuses to bargain a new contract with workers' officially certified union at this point, it is an illegal Unfair Labor Practice.

After the union is certified, we begin the process of collective bargaining with Amazon management to negotiate a new contract, the terms of which workers will democratically vote to accept or reject.  

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