The vote count in the union campaign at Amazon’s Bessemer warehouse in Alabama is under way, but the winner may not be determined until Friday.
By Thursday night, the count was leaning strongly against the union, with 1,100 workers rejecting it and 463 voting in favor. The count will resume on Friday morning.
The Union of Retail, Wholesale and Department Stores, which organizes Bessemer workers, said 3,215 votes had been cast – about 55 percent of the nearly 6,000 eligible voters. The union said hundreds of those votes were contested, mostly by Amazon, for various reasons such as the voter did not work there or did not meet the conditions for voting. The Union did not specify how many votes were contested.
The National Labor Council is counting the votes in Birmingham, Alabama. In order to determine the winner, the field of victory must be greater than the number of contested votes, otherwise a hearing will be held on whether or not to open the contested votes and to be counted towards the final number.
RWDSU President Stuart Apelbaum gave a grim tone in a statement before the results: “Our system is broken, Amazon is taking full advantage of this and we will call on the labor board to hold Amazon accountable for illegal and rude behavior during the campaign. But make no mistake about it; this is still an important moment for working people and their voices will be heard. “
Amazon could not be reached for immediate comment.
The vote itself garnered national attention with professional athletes, Hollywood stars and even a president Joe Biden weighing on the side of the union.
If the alliance wins, it will be the first in Amazon’s 26-year history. But the vote also has far-reaching implications beyond Amazon, which is now the second-largest private employer in the United States after retailer Walmart.
Whatever the outcome, Labor organizers hope Bessemer will inspire thousands of workers across the country – and not just Amazon – to consider merging. For Amazon, which has more than 950,000 employees in the United States and is fighting hard to organize trials, the loss of unions could unfreeze such efforts around the company.
The Labor Board has already reviewed each vote, reading names and signatures on envelopes with representatives of Amazon and retail unions, both of whom had a chance to challenge those votes. The disputed votes were removed and were not opened.
The board now opens the undisputed votes from their envelopes and counts the votes “for” or “no”.
Even if there is a clear winner, the battle may not be over. If workers vote against forming a union, the retail union may file an objection, accusing Amazon of tarnishing the election in any way, which could lead to a re-run of the election if the board of directors agrees. Amazon may file objections if workers vote to form a union.
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