Results are unclear in Amazon’s Alabama union elections

Federal officials counted ballots for an Amazon union election at an Alabama warehouse on Thursday, but early results were too close to announce.

Workers cast 875 ballots in favor of joining the retail, wholesale and department store union, with 993 votes against. But another 416 ballots were disputed by Amazon or the union, and those votes will determine the final outcome.

Either party can challenge a worker’s eligibility to vote. It will likely take weeks for the National Labor Relations Board to sort through those ballots and include them in the final tally.

There are a lot of disputed ballots, well beyond the difference between yes and no,” RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum said at a press conference after the count.

Appelbaum noted recent labor victories at Starbucks and REI, saying there was “an important moment going on in our country right now.”

“Workers are tired of being treated like disposable commodity,” he said. “They are tired of being treated like robots.”

Meanwhile, a separate vote count was underway Thursday for a union election at an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island. The union in that case, the new Amazon Labor Union, retained a lead after several hours of counting before officials halted for the day. The first results will not be known until Friday at the earliest.

The election in Alabama marked the second time in a year that workers at the Bessemer factory outside Birmingham have decided to unionize. The second election took place because Amazon broke the law in the first, held in early 2021.

Amazon’s facility in Bessemer, Alabama.

PATRICK T. FALLON via Getty Images

The union had challenged the results of that vote based on Amazon’s conduct. Labor council officials later determined that the company had tainted the voting process, ordering the change. Appelbaum said the union could also file objections to how Amazon acted in the second election.

Amazon deals with unions in some countries, but its sprawling US logistics network remains union-free. The company today employs about 1 million workers in the United States, most of whom work in warehouses where they pick, pack and ship orders to customers.

To unionize a facility through an election, a union must collect signed union cards from at least 30% of the workers to authorize a vote and then win a majority of the votes cast. Unions have not had much success in recent years trying to organize large facilities like Amazon’s through traditional elections, when often the employer campaigns against the union.

Amazon has shown its resolve to drive unions out of its warehouses by hiring union-busting consultants and flooding workers with union-busting messages. In the run-up to the first elections, some of Amazon’s consultants were paid $3,200 each a day to hold meetings with workers designed to persuade them to vote against the union.


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