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Amazon faces its fourth union election of the year

Yahoo Finance's Alexis Keenan joins the Live show to discuss the expectations for Amazon's fourth union election of the year.

Video Transcript

AKIKO FUJITA: Well, let's turn our attention to the uptick in union activity across the country starting with Amazon and a fourth union election for the company this year. Yahoo Finance's Alexis Keenan is here to break it all down for us. And, Alexis, we're looking at the vote in Albany. When are we expecting--

ALEXIS KEENAN: Close to Albany.

AKIKO FUJITA: Close to Albany. When are we expecting that number to come down?

ALEXIS KEENAN: It's underway right now. It started at 10:00 AM Eastern time, expected to take about three or four hours. And so we should have some numbers by this afternoon.

But like you said, it would be the fourth time workers for Amazon in their facilities have voted yes or no on union. So let's look at the numbers. This particular facility in Castleton, New York, it has about 400 workers. That's just an estimate though.

Those that say they want a union, they say that they want it because the management is prioritizing profits over people. That's a bit of a vague statement there, but these workers make approximately $17 an hour after a pay hike that was at $16 an hour. So if we look at the numbers, that brings the total number of union votes for Amazon to four.

The vote underway today plus that first Yes vote that's pending certification-- that was that big Staten Island facility that has 8,300 workers. They voted yes back in March. Also no votes from two different facilities.

A second one in Staten Island came down in May as well as a no vote in Bessemer, Alabama, in March. So the company kind of getting a 50/50 result there. Also looking at today Starbucks-- Starbucks is holding-- held a couple different votes yesterday.

One was in Seattle. Another one was in Portland, Maine. Those workers are going to decide whether to join Starbucks Workers United in that case.

AKIKO FUJITA: And we've seen this get a little contentious. I mean, it's not just Starbucks but just the very latest for these tensions to flare up within the stores, and what's going on there?

ALEXIS KEENAN: Tensions are very high with Starbucks, and that is evidenced by a lawsuit that was filed yesterday by eight Starbucks workers. They are located in Anderson, South Carolina. This is a unionized store already, and we have some video of the incident that gave rise to this lawsuit.

And what the lawsuit is saying, the employees are saying that the manager of the store as well as Starbucks appear to have coordinated to allege that they were preventing the manager from exiting the store. The worker said that they confronted their manager asking for a pay raise, asking for also some of the equipment in the store to be addressed. Now, we've spoken with Starbucks this morning.

They say they are aware of this complaint. They are still reviewing it. However, they do note that the manager came and filed this complaint on her own, that this was not the company's action to go ahead and file what was a police report.

So once these employees that you just saw in that video had asked for a pay raise and these other things that they were looking for, the manager then went to the police there locally and said that she was prevented from exiting the store, which amounts to, in some cases, a kidnapping, and also said that the employees assaulted her. Now, a lot of work is still to be done, but a police report that was given to local reporters said that that wasn't the case-- that after having reviewed that video, that they found that it was a peaceful incident, that they did let the manager go back and forth at will.

So more to be learned there. But the employees in this case were suspended, and I had asked Starbucks whether they were suspended with or without pay. They're still working on giving me answers on that. But the manager, in this case, also suspended, though, with pay.

AKIKO FUJITA: It's getting kind of ugly.

ALEXIS KEENAN: It's getting very ugly for Starbucks. The company is fighting these union efforts across the country, and just, tensions are very high. And look, Starbucks, it's a little bit easier, some experts in union organizations say, for Starbucks workers to organize because you're going store by store where there are fewer employees in each location versus an Amazon in that case--

AKIKO FUJITA: Where thousands of workers--

ALEXIS KEENAN: --thousands have to coordinate to even get a petition in line for a vote to happen.

AKIKO FUJITA: Yeah, a lot of companies watching both of those votes very closely. Thanks so much for that.