Exclusive: Amazon instructs New York workers 'don't sign' union cards

The digital notices specifically discourage workers signing union cards.

Exclusive: Amazon instructs New York workers 'don't sign' union cards

Amazon, the second-largest employer in the United States, has made plain its desire to keep its workforce from unionizing. In one of its warehouses, ALB1 in upstate New York, that message has become crystal clear: "Don't sign a card."

Photos of the new digital signage were sent to Engadget by an employee at the facility. Their presence was confirmed by a second employee, David, who claims to have been at the fulfillment center approximately since its opening in 2020. According to David (whose full name is being withheld for fear of retribution by his employer), the carousel of anti-union posters went up today and cycles between approximately seven different slides, each actively discouraging workers from signing a union card. "It's on a constant loop while people punch in and punch out of their shifts," he said, "[when] they go on their breaks, or they go on their lunch. Any time that we're going to be up towards the front."

Amazon has been known to post signage meant to discourage unionization at other facilities. As Vice reported in March, workers at JFK8 in Staten Island, New York were treated to an array of posters with circumspect slogans like "Is union life for me?" and "Will the [Amazon Labor Union]'s voice replace mine?" The signage at ALB1 appears to represent the most forceful tack the company has taken in expressing its disdain for an organized workforce. The company also has a track record of breaking labor laws and frustrating organizing efforts: firing or otherwise retaliating against workers, preventing workers from handing out pamphlets, and interfering with a union election. Behind closed doors, the company also planned a smear campaign against a prominent organizer.

We've asked both Amazon and the National Labor Relations Board for comment on the legality of this signage and will update our story if receive a response.

Workers at ALB1 have been pushing to form a union since at least May. It's not yet clear if the organizing efforts are pointed toward joining Amazon Labor Union, the grassroots group that successfully voted to unionize one of the Staten Island facilities in April. That said, based on the new signage, management at this fulfillment center appears to consider the group its primary threat. Nearly all of the signs specifically reference ALU, which the company calls "untested and unproven." Another even suggests joining ALU would involve giving up some measure of personal privacy, though it's not clear in what way. We've asked ALU for comment as well and will update this story if we hear back from the group.

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