Workers at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, voted against a bid to unionize.
Although hundreds of the ballots were challenged, Amazon’s margin of victory was large enough to render the contested votes irrelevant.
The National Labor Relations Board counted the vote on a live teleconference that began Thursday and resumed Friday morning with a small group of observers including representatives of both Amazon and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.
The NLRB received 3,215 total ballots, meaning just 55 percent of the warehouse’s workers voted in the election.
The labor board only needed to count about 2,300 ballots before Amazon reached the 50 percent threshold of 1,608 “no” votes.
Amazon’s 5,805 Bessemer workers would’ve joined the RWDSU if the vote had succeeded.
“Our system is broken, Amazon took full advantage of that, and we will be calling on the labor board to hold Amazon accountable for its illegal and egregious behavior during the campaign,” RWDSU president Stuart Appelbaum said in a statement on Thursday night.
“But make no mistake about it; this still represents an important moment for working people and their voices will be heard.”
With the union deep in the hole on the vote count, @RWDSU prez Stuart Appelbaum says ‘the system is broken’ and they plan to ask the NLRB to ‘hold Amazon accountable.’ Safe to say the union will be challenging the results if they end up where they’re headed. Statement: pic.twitter.com/wuOk8HBElg
— Dave Jamieson (@jamieson) April 8, 2021
The RWDSU may file a challenge to the election within seven days, according to NLRB rules.
Critics had accused Amazon of attempting to improperly interfere in the union vote with tactics such as posting anti-union posters in the facility’s bathrooms.
The company introduced an initiative to pay unhappy workers $1,000 to quit, which critics said was an attempt to bribe pro-union workers to leave, The Washington Post reported.
But Amazon defended its actions in a statement to the Daily Caller News Foundation last week, saying it regularly posts fliers in bathrooms to ensure its workers know about important information.
Additionally, the company said its program to pay workers to quit is nothing new and has been in place since 2014.
In February, the NLRB rejected Amazon’s bid to delay the election because the vote was set to take place via mail due to the pandemic. Amazon argued that some workers would be disenfranchised as a result.
Pro-union workers demanded better treatment, higher wages, improved training and safety standards, job security, less surveillance, additional hazard pay, more breaks and added benefits, according to the RWDSU.
“Amazon presents a threat to the very fabric of society and the social contract we work to uphold for all working people,” the RWDSU said in a statement on its website.
“Corporations like Amazon have built decades of increasingly bold and aggressive attacks on workers’ rights that have dramatically eroded union density.”
Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer are paid $15.30 per hour at minimum, receive health and dental insurance, are able to have their 401(k) plans matched and may receive college tuition reimbursement, spokeswoman Heather Knox recently told the DCNF.
The Bessemer Amazon workers first filed a notice of a vote to form a union in November 2020. The vote began on Feb. 8 and ended March 29.
The unionization effort garnered nationwide attention, with multiple congressional delegations and union activists visiting the Bessemer warehouse to endorse the effort. President Joe Biden and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio both supported the effort.
“The choice is easy — I support the workers,” Rubio wrote in a March USA Today editorial.
Amazon attacked Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders on Twitter last month after the pair slammed the company.
This is extraordinary and revealing. One of the most powerful politicians in the United States just said she’s going to break up an American company so that they can’t criticize her anymore. https://t.co/Nt0wcZo17g
— Amazon News (@amazonnews) March 26, 2021
There’s a big difference between talk and action. @SenSanders has been a powerful politician in Vermont for 30 years and their min wage is still $11.75. Amazon’s is $15, plus great health care from day one. Sanders would rather talk in Alabama than act in Vermont.
— Amazon News (@amazonnews) March 26, 2021
In 2000, the company defeated attempts by the Communications Workers of America and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union to unionize thousands of employees.
In 2014, a group of Amazon workers in Middletown, Delaware, voted overwhelmingly against unionization, according to The Seattle Times.
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