Voting Review for Amazon Labor Union to Continue in Alabama

By McKenzie Carpenter Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Labor union plans have slowly disintegrated in recent years, but a new movement from warehouse workers for Amazon in Bessemer, Alabama, could revive the once-powerful and impactful decision to proceed. Today, ballot officials will continue counting votes that will decide whether or not Amazon warehouse workers will be granted a labor union.

Amazon fulfillment center in Nevada.

Labor Union Organization

Last November, nearly 6,000 warehouse workers for the massive tech company notified the National Labor Relations Board, or NLRB, on its plans to hold a vote on whether to be represented by the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union, or RWDSU. In December 2020, a month later, the ecommerce business agreed to hold an election for the workers to vote on whether or not to unionize.

While the tech company advocated for an in-person election, due to Bessemer, Alabama’s location in Jefferson County, a county known nationwide for its high COVID-positive rate, the NLRB ruled the election will be held by mail. Bessemer Amazon warehouse workers began casting their votes on February 8. All votes were to be submitted to the NLRB’s regional office by March 29.

The Verge reported that the Bessemer warehouse workers argued in favor of a labor union, stating that the automatically enforced productivity metrics in the tech business “...make work grueling, stressful, and dehumanizing... If workers fail to maintain a fast pace, they get reprimanded or fired.” The workers added they would like better working conditions and higher pay as well.

This is the first vote for a labor union for the ecommerce tech business since 2014 when warehouse workers in Delaware were denied a union because they did not receive enough votes.

Amazon Ballot Review

Voting for labor union organization in the tech company ended Monday, and NLRB officials began counting ballot eligibility yesterday. The ballot review continues today.

Amazon has made a series of attempts to prohibit the election. Yesterday, CNBC reported the NLRB rejected the request from the ecommerce business to install video cameras to watch the ballot boxes. Although the tech company has been adamantly against the election, the business stated that “Our employees know the truth—starting wages of $15 or more, health care from day one, and a safe and inclusive workplace. We encouraged all of our employees to vote and hope they did so.”

The company is the second-largest private employer after Walmart, with more than 800,000 employees. If enough workers voted in favor of forming a labor union with the RWDSU, it would be the first-ever labor union in the United States (US) for the ecommerce business. However, subsequent objections to the vote could prevent a certified result.

The Associated Press reported if the vote is successful, Amazon could feel the effects as the ecommerce business would have to dip into its profits to provide higher wages and potentially higher costs to deliver the packages to customers, resulting in the company potentially raising prices on the ecommerce website.

About the Author

Headshot for author McKenzie Carpenter

McKenzie Carpenter is a graduate of Central Michigan University with a B.A.A. in Integrative Public Relations and French. McKenzie has previously worked for small businesses and nonprofit organizations.

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