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Amazon workers vote against union in Alabama; union to challenge results

Amazon worker

It wasn’t even close according to the final tally, but a challenge has been raised.

The majority of workers at Amazon’s fulfillment center in Bessemer, Ala., voted against joining the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. In a blow to organized labor, the final tally was 738 votes in favor of unionizing and 1,798 votes against. Ballots were cast by approximately  55% of the 5,867 eligible Amazon workers.

The union, which represents 15 million workers nationwide, is filing a legal challenge to the election and charges of unfair labor practices against Amazon. It has requested a hearing by the National Labor Relations Board "to determine if the results of the election should be set aside because conduct by the employer created an atmosphere of confusion, coercion and/or fear of reprisals and thus interfered with the employees' freedom of choice.”

"Amazon has left no stone unturned in its efforts to gaslight its own employees,” stated Staurt Appelbaum, president of RWDSU. “We won't let Amazon's lies, deception and illegal activities go unchallenged, which is why we are formally filing charges against all of the egregious and blatantly illegal actions taken by Amazon during the union vote.” 

Amazon has long resisted unionization and waged an aggressive campaign in Bessemer. In a statement, Amazon said that allegations it “won the election” because it intimidated employees were not true.

Our employees heard far more anti-Amazon messages from the union, policymakers, and media outlets than they heard from us,” the company said. “And Amazon didn’t win—our employees made the choice to vote against joining a union. Our employees are the heart and soul of Amazon, and we’ve always worked hard to listen to them, take their feedback, make continuous improvements, and invest heavily to offer great pay and benefits in a safe and inclusive workplace.”

Also weighing in on the results was the National Retail Federation.

“With reports that a majority of employees at the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama have voted to reject representation by a union, the results are clear,” stated David French, senior VP of government relations. “The process works and employees can make an informed decision despite the enormous scrutiny under which this campaign was conducted. Union representation is a choice for workers, but many clearly prefer opportunities in a competitive marketplace that provides strong wages and benefits over the anonymity of a collective bargaining agreement.”

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