Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer, Alabama, were voting overwhelmingly against the union on Thursday after a months of campaign in which Labor hopes to penetrate into the sprawling company.
While the vote count was paused tonight, 1,100 employees voted against joining the group, compared with 463 who agreed. The count presented an almost insurmountable climb for union supporters to win the 1,608 votes needed to win.
If approved, the union would be the first for Amazon, the nation’s second-largest employer in the United States.
While the vote has not been completed, the Retail, Retail and Department Store Union, or RWDSU, a union that wants to represent the 5,800 workers at Bessemer, has said it will challenge the vote by filing a lawsuit against the NLRB. On charges of unfair labor practices It will accuse Amazon of breaking the law with some anti-union activity in its running for the election.
“Our system is broken. Amazon is taking full advantage of that, and we will call on the Labor Committee to hold Amazon responsible for illegal and serious behavior during the campaign,”; said RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum. It’s still an important time for working people and their voices will be heard. ”
Amazon did not make a statement after the conclusion of the vote count on Thursday evening.
After the seven-week time frame for voting by mail ended on March 29, the NLRB spent two weeks reviewing ballot eligibility and counting on a process that the Union and Amazon noticed from 5,805 voters. The vote was 3,215, but “hundreds” were excluded from contention, with the majority being Amazon’s. According to the union, Amazon or the union could dispute the vote based on factors such as garbled signatures or questions about voting. Regardless of whether the employee’s job title gives the right to vote or not. Those ballots will only count if the last edge is small enough.
Labor experts said anticipating results was not a surprise given the resources Amazon has invested in anti-organizing.
“It’s very difficult for workers to win in these situations,” said Rebecca Jivan, associate professor of management and labor relations at Rutgers University in New Jersey. Employers were able to overcome unions by instilling fear and insecurity on their workers, and even workers who initially liked to form a union were afraid and changed their minds. ”
The Bessemer warehouse, which opened in March 2020, is Amazon’s first operations center in Alabama.Workers began organizing union ballots in August, hoping to improve their working conditions. Jennifer Bates, an Amazon worker in Bessemer, said it was now difficult to go to the bathroom without penalty. Work takes time
Earlier this year, Amazon released what labor experts look like as a classic, well-funded anti-trade union campaign at a warehouse.
Workers said they needed to attend a series of meetings during the shift in which an Amazon representative explained why the unions would not benefit workers in their view. Posters throughout the warehouse, some of them in the restrooms, urged workers to vote No.The company also distributed buttons and stickers for employees to wear, and has created websites and hashtags. #DoItWithoutDues It emphasizes that workers may be required to pay an annual fee of $ 500 to a union.
Amazon has a long history of disrupting unionization.In 1999, Communication Workers of America launched a campaign to unite 400 customer service workers in Seattle. After months of campaigning against unions, Amazon shut down its call center in 2000 in what the company said was a dot-com-related restructuring.
In 2014, 21 equipment technicians at an Amazon warehouse in Delaware voted against the co-ordination of the event. International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, according to what a union spokesperson described as
Amazon spokeswoman Mary Osako told Time magazine at the time that a “no” vote against third-party representation showed employees. “Prefer direct connection with Amazon”
The anti-union Bessemer workers seem to question its purpose.
LaVonette Stokes, who worked as an organizer for the Alabama Teachers’ Union when she wasn’t working at Amazon, and her husband held a mid-level process adviser position earning $ 15 to $ 19 an hour. But she said the unskilled labor union in Bessemer was unreasonable and would go too slowly. She and her husband spent $ 2,400 to print a flyer detailing the benefits of Amazon.
“We are talking about contracted unions where, yes, they get extra money. But they take about five to seven years before they add up, ”she said.
Her husband, William, said: “We are not opposed to trade unions, we are against this particular association and we are against the union at this place, especially everything this union offers.
Workers who agree with the unions say they hope it will improve working conditions, provide better job security and benefits when Amazon reports record profits, partly due to the rapid growth in work practices. Online retail
“I love my job. I give 110 percent of my money every day I go there, no matter how stressful it gets,” said Bessemer warehouse worker Darryl Richardson. “But I feel that employees deserve better and better what they do.”
Richardson said he and other union workers were expected to be fired or forced from their jobs.
“I have to keep going, and I hate it,” he said. “It’s sad that you do everything you can to try to make things better for people, and you feel like you’re going to lose your job.”
Amazon spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said in an email: “We respect the right of all employees to join, form or not join the trade union or other lawful organization of their own choosing without fear of retaliation, intimidation or harassment.”
Amazon spokesman Leah Seay said that in Bessemer, health care coverage was offered and paid at least $ 15.30 hourly, higher than the federal minimum wage of $ 7.25 an hour. Alabama has no minimum wage law.
Employees are also receiving retirement plans, Seay said.
The union’s drive has attracted global attention on conditions for Amazon warehouse workers and the length of the company will prevent them from organizing, said Givan, professor Rutgers.
“Workers across the country watching what happen may be inspired by what will happen if you take action and gain national attention,” she said.
Analysts said consolidation efforts at other Amazon warehouses in the US are likely to continue, particularly in higher-cost states such as New York and California. Chelsea Conner, spokesman for RWDSU, said the union has received thousands of organizing questions from Amazon workers at other locations since the start of organizing efforts.
“Amazon is the best paying job unskilled workers can find in Alabama,” said Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Securities.
“It will cut into profits,” he said, “but it’s a humane thing to do.”