Workers in B&H’s two Brooklyn warehouses voted overwhelmingly today for union representation with the United Steelworkers, in an election administered by the National Labor Relations Board. The vote comes on the heels of a weeks-long anti-union campaign waged by B&H management, with workers alleging daily threats, harassment, and intimidation in the workplace. Lawyers for the union have filed multiple charges with the NLRB, alleging B&H engaged in unlawful anti-union activity during the course of the campaign.
Workers remained strong in the face of management’s tactics, confident in the widespread support for unionization in the workplace. "We knew we would win our vote today by a large margin, which of course the company did not expect”, said Jorge Lora, B&H Warehouse Worker of 5 years. “Today we won because the workers voted with their conscience”.
Workers publicly announced their intent to organize with the United Steelworkers on October 11th, after receiving training and support from the grassroots, worker-led community organization Laundry Workers Center. Since the campaign launch, a groundswell of support has grown amongst community, faith and labor groups, as well as thousands of photo/video professionals and B&H customers. On the eve of the union vote, the Photo/Video Alliance for Fair Labor released an open letter to B&H management with over 1,000 signers in journalism, fine art and commercial photography, film, television, and academia, calling on B&H “to end the hazardous working conditions and discrimination workers report at B&H’s Brooklyn warehouses”. Supporters used the campaign slogan #BHExposed to increase awareness of the worker’s campaign, garnering extensive coverage of the working conditions in B&H’s warehouses, including the New York Times, Al Jazeera America, The Nation, WNYC, and numerous photo-video websites and blogs.
The news of the landslide victory was welcomed by dozens of supporters who waited outside of both Brooklyn warehouses to congratulate workers coming off of their shifts. “We want to share this moment with other workers so they also know that they longer have to feel exploited”, said Alberto Sánchez, B&H employee, 7 years. “We were taught our rights, and now we have to pass that on to other workers so they can fight back against the exploitation and discrimination they face.”
“After a year of hard work organizing, today the workers are victorious. This is a huge step for the workers’ movement, and for the Laundry Workers Center, as it continues to develop worker power and leadership in New York City and beyond, said Rosanna Aran, Co-Director of the Laundry Workers Center, said.