Efforts to unionize Amazon’s warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, were widely rejected on the second day of the count. More than half of the 3,215 votes cast were in favor of the retailer. The Retail, Wholesale and Department Stores Union, which would have served as a workers’ union if the vote had passed, was quick to challenge the results.
RWDSU Chairman Stuart Appelbaum said in a statement offered to TechCrunch:
Amazon has left no stone unturned in its efforts to feed its own employees. We will not let Amazon’s lies, deception and illegal activity go unchallenged, which is why we are formally filing charges against all of the blatant and clearly illegal actions taken by Amazon in the union vote. Amazon knew full well that unless they did everything they could, even illegal activities, their workers would have continued to support the union.
This is why they demanded that all their employees attend conference after conference, filled with false truths and lies, where workers had to listen to the company demand that they oppose the union. That’s why they have flooded the internet, airwaves and social media with advertisements spreading disinformation. That’s why they got dozens of foreigners and union breakers to walk on the warehouse floor. This is why they bombarded people with signs all over the facility and with text messages and calls home. And that’s why they lied about union dues in a state of law at work. Amazon’s conduct has been despicable.
This initial defeat represents a significant setback in the biggest organizing push in Amazon’s 27-year history. What could have been a sea change for the retail giant and tech blue-collar workers has, for now, been pretty much conquered.
Amazon has, of course, long insisted on treating workers fairly, rendering such union efforts unnecessary. The company cites standards such as a minimum wage of $ 15 an hour, a factor the company initially pushed back on, but which was eventually brought in after pressure from lawmakers.
It was a fierce battle on both sides. A number of lawmakers have leaned their weight on organizing efforts, in an unlikely alliance ranging from Bernie Sanders to Marco Rubio. The conservative Florida senator noted the “particularly malicious corporate behavior of the company.” President Joe Biden also sided with the workers, calling himself “the most pro-union president you’ve ever seen.”
The company will undoubtedly tout the results as a justification. He noted in an initial statement: “[O]Our employees are smart and know the truth – a starting salary of $ 15 or more, healthcare from day one, and a safe and inclusive workplace. We encourage all of our employees to vote. “
In a blog post following the news, the company noted:
It’s easy to predict that the union will say that Amazon won this election because we bullied the employees, but that’s not true. Our employees have heard far more anti-Amazon messages from the union, policy makers and the media than they have heard from us. And Amazon didn’t win – our employees chose to vote against union membership. Our people are the heart and soul of Amazon, and we’ve always worked hard to listen to them, take their feedback, make continuous improvements, and invest heavily to deliver great compensation and benefits in a safe and secure workplace. inclusive. We are not perfect, but we take pride in our team and what we offer, and we will continue to work to improve ourselves every day.
Among the challenges expected from the union are lingering questions about the ballot boxes allegedly installed by the company in violation of the terms of the labor relations board.[E]Even though the NLRB definitely rejected Amazon’s request for a drop box on warehouse property, Amazon felt it was above the law and still worked with the Postal Service to install one. a, ”writes the RWDSU. “They did it because it clearly allowed them to intimidate the workers.”
The Bessemer warehouse, which employs around 6,000 workers, was opened in late March 2020, as the company sought to expand the activities of its essential workers during the impending lockdown. The conversation raised long-standing complaints about the company’s treatment of blue-collar workers, including numerous reports that employees urinate in water bottles in order to meet strict performance standards.
The company initially denied the allegations during a social media offensive, but then clarified its position in some sort of apology, appearing to blame broader industry issues. The company also ran anti-union ads on its subsidiary, Twitch, before the streaming platform shut them down, saying they “should never have been allowed to run.”
A total of 3,215 votes were cast, representing more than half of Alabama warehouse workers. Although Amazon won more than half of the votes, the count will continue. The challenges are likely to last for weeks.