Amazon employees in Alabama have voted against forming a union
Amazondefeated a vote to form a unionat its warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama.
- Amazon has been aggressively campaigning against the formation of a union there since late last year.
Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) said it's officially filing objections alleging Amazon illegally interfered with the election.
Amazon workers at the company's warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama have voted against forming what would have been the company's first-ever union in the US.
The vote count finished early Friday afternoon. The final tally was 1,798 votes against unionizing and 738 votes for the union, with 505 ballots challenged and 76 ballots being voided. 70.9% of valid votes counted were against the union.
With a majority of votes against the union, Amazon has successfully defeated the unionization attempt.
Since Amazon's margin of victory was higher than the total number of challenged ballots, the challenged ballots won't be opened and the votes inside them won't be counted.
In a statement on the victory, Amazon said it was glad workers' "collective voices were finally heard."
"It's easy to predict the union will say that Amazon won this election because we intimidated employees, but that's not true," the company said. "Our employees heard far more anti-Amazon messages from the union, policymakers, and media outlets than they heard from us. And Amazon didn't win - our employees made the choice to vote against joining a union."
The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) announced it is filing official objections with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) alleging that Amazon illegally interfered with the vote.
"Amazon has left no stone unturned in its efforts to gaslight its own employees. 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," RWDSU president Stuart Appelbaum said in a statement.
Unfair labor practice charges are common in contentious union elections, John Logan, a labor and employment professor at San Francisco State University who specializes in tactics companies use to defeat union drives, previously told Insider. He said it's "fairly difficult" to predict how the NLRB will ultimately rule on those charges.
Before Thursday's public vote count, both Amazon and the RWDSU also had the the opportunity to challenge employees' eligibility to cast a ballot. Hundreds of ballots were challenged, mostly by Amazon, according to the RWDSU.
A union vote that drew national attention
The 5,800 warehouse workers had from February 8 until March 29 to cast their mail-in ballots. Amazon led an aggressive anti-union campaign and has fought workers' efforts to organize across the country.
In Bessemer, the company papered bathroom stalls, distributed anti-union merchandise, and ran targeted advertisements encouraging workers to vote no, Insider previously reported.
One of the RWDSU's objections centers around a US Postal Service mailbox that was installed outside the warehouse, in which Amazon encouraged workers to cast their ballots. According to a Freedom of Information request obtained by The Washington Post on Thursday, Amazon pushed for the USPS to install the mailbox there. This came after the NLRB rejected a bid from the company to make in-person voting obligatory in February.
"Even though the NLRB definitively denied Amazon's request for a drop box on the warehouse property, Amazon felt it was above the law and worked with the postal service anyway to install one. They did this because it provided a clear ability to intimidate workers," Appelbaum said in his statement.
"We said from the beginning that we wanted all employees to vote and proposed many different options to try and make it easy," an Amazon spokesperson told Insider. "The RWDSU fought those at every turn and pushed for a mail-only election, which the NLRB's own data showed would reduce turnout. This mailbox - which only the USPS had access to - was a simple, secure, and completely optional way to make it easy for employees to vote, no more and no less."
Amazon has been vocally anti-union, in some cases sending multiple text messages a day to workers and handing out "vote no" pins. The company has also repeatedly stated that its starting wage and benefits are comparable to what a union would offer.
The union effort received bipartisan support from politicians over the course of the vote. Sen. Bernie Sanders visited Bessemer along with union organizers to shore up support. Sen. Marco Rubio spoke out in support of the union effort. And President Joe Biden spoke broadly about the benefits of unionization, but did not explicitly reference this union effort.
The union vote was marked by appeals from Amazon to change the NLRB's practices. In February, Insider reported that the NLRB had denied Amazon's request to conduct an in-person union election, saying that the company must allow mail-in voting. And after the close of voting on March 29, the NLRB denied a request by Amazon for increased surveillance on the room where ballots were stored in the labor board's Birmingham, Alabama headquarters.
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