Contested ballots cast doubt on Amazon union vote outcome in Alabama

The final results of heavily contested union elections at the Amazon facility in Bessemer, Alabama, remain unclear as hundreds of contested ballots go to the National Labor Board for investigation.

The initial count showed that a majority had voted against unionization, with approximately 52% of the ballots cast voting against joining the Retail, Wholesale and Stores Union and 48% voting in favour. Only 39% of the 6,000 workers at the facility returned their ballots.

However, the number of contested ballots, 416, is enough to change the outcome and needs to be investigated by the NLRB before a final tally is reached. RWDSU President Stuart Applebaum said both the union and Amazon had challenged the ballots.

Despite the low turnout, Applebaum tried to push through a hopeful note after the final count on Thursday.

“The workers here are also sending a clear message – it’s about time Jeff Bezos returned to Earth and addressed the very real issues his workers face every day at his facilities across the country,” he said apple tree.

As evidence of the campaign’s impact, he cited a recent wave of organizing at Starbucks, REI and other retail outlets.

Cars drive past a digital billboard paid for by Amazon urging workers to join the union campaign on Saturday, February 26, 2022, in Bessemer, Alabama, USA.

Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Appelbaum blamed the low turnout on high turnover at Amazon’s warehouses and the company’s aggressive anti-union tactics, including including workers in mandatory meetings to convince them to vote “no.”

This is the second time the department store has voted to join the RWDSU. During the first vote in April last year, Amazon easily defeated the workers’ attempt to join the RWDSU, which was supported by less than 30% of the workers. RWDSU has sued Amazon for illegal misconduct and claimed the company intimidated workers into voting against union efforts.

After months of investigation, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) called for snap elections. From February 4 through March 25, workers at the Bessemer facility had to mail in their ballots. The NLRB began processing the ballots Monday, giving the union and Amazon an opportunity to challenge specific ballots.

The NLRB also checks ballots for a union election at a warehouse on Staten Island, New York. RWDSU is hoping for a more favorable outcome there, especially since New York is not a right-to-work state like Alabama.

Voting on Staten Island resumes Friday.

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