The vote count will begin in an election to determine whether Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer, Alabama, will form a union in what is considered one of the largest and most momentous organizing drives in recent US history.
The contest has pitted the American labor movement, backed by a host of Democratic politicians and some Republicans, against one of the most powerful corporations in the world.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) will begin counting votes to see if Bessemer workers will form a union with the Wholesale Retail and Department Store Union (RWDSU). If successful, the warehouse would be Amazon’s first union in the US, as many Amazon workers in Europe are. already unionized.
“This campaign has already been a victory in many ways. While we don’t know how the vote will turn out, we believe we’ve opened the door for more organizing across the country and exposed the lengths employers will go to crushing their employees trying to win a union voice. ”Said Stuart Appelbaum, president of RWDSU. “This campaign has become the best example of why we need labor law reform in this country.”
About 5,800 employees were eligible to vote in the elections, with a majority of those who voted to determine the outcome.
The results could take a while to finally be counted and the process could be legally complicated. The NLRB said it will not have an estimate of how long the vote count will take until the count begins. The union estimated that the results will take about a week.
During the vote count, the union and Amazon will have the opportunity to challenge the veracity of the ballots and proceedings objections within five business days after the vote count.
Results could also be delayed if enough ballots are contested to affect the election result, at which point an NLRB hearing officer will determine whether a contested ballot will be counted.
Amazon strongly opposed union organizing efforts at the Bessemer warehouse, encouraging workers to vote “no” in the elections through posters, signs, mail, a website, texts, advertisements, captive audience meetings, and consultants hired to avoid unions for nearly $ 10,000 a day before the election. Under the Pro Act, a labor law reform bill supported by Democrats and unions in the U.S., would prohibit employers from forcing workers to participate in captive hearing meetings, and fines would be significantly increased for violations of the labor law.
The union unit has received support for of unions and organizations in the Bessemer area and in the United States. Several congressmen visited the union organizing site for the past few weeks to show support for the workers.
“This election is important because it is the beginning of addressing inappropriate working conditions,” said Eric Hall, founder of the Black Lives Matter chapter in Birmingham, Alabama, who has supported union organizing efforts and participated in rallies to gain support from the community for workers. .
A estimated 85% of the Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer are black.
“Birmingham is a city known for its strong stand for civil rights. Its people led a rebellion against racism and Jim Crow, and in this current movement they are the grandchildren and great-grandchildren who are fighting today’s injustices, fighting the rich and powerful, fighting systemic racism, fighting economic and social injustice. Hall said.
According to the RWDSU, hundreds of Amazon workers in the US. arrived to the union during Alabama’s organizing effort with interests to initiate union organizing within their workplaces.
As the Alabama union elections concluded, Amazon executives increasingly attacked their critics, with recent comments on social media from Amazon CEO Dave Clark and The Amazon Communications Team against Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren and Congressman Mark Pocan.
According to Recode, the tweets came after Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. voiced dismay that executives did not sufficiently dismiss criticism of the company.
Shortly after Amazon’s public relations account claimed that reports that workers urinate in bottles due to their inability to go to the bathroom during shifts are false, The Intercept reported in leaked emails and memos where Amazon management discussed problems with delivery drivers urinating in plastic bottles and defecating in plastic bags.
An Amazon spokesperson said in an email: “We do not believe that the RWDSU represents the majority of the views of our employees. Our employees choose to work at Amazon because we offer some of the best jobs available everywhere we hire, and we encourage everyone to compare our total compensation, health benefits and work environment package to any other company with similar jobs. “
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism