Amazon employees begin vote to unionize at Alabama facility
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Amazon employees begin vote to unionize at Alabama facility

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) denied Friday Amazon’s effort to limit mail voting in its Alabama union representation election, allowing 6,000 employees to begin voting Monday on whether to unionize.

In November 2020, the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU) filed for an election at the Bessemer, Alabama Amazon fulfillment center, which has about 6,200 hourly employees. On January 15, a labor board official stated that the election was to begin on February 8 with the mailing of ballots. Ballots must be mailed in by March 29, and the vote count will start March 30. 

Amazon requested a review of the regional director’s decision and direction of election and filed a motion to stay the election pending review. On Friday, the NLRB denied both the request and the motion, as the request “raises no substantial issues warranting review,” and the motion was found to be moot. The Board determined that mail-in voting, as opposed to in-person voting, was safest and most appropriate due to COVID-19.

On the Board’s decision, RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum stated:

Once again Amazon workers have won another fight in their effort to win a union voice. Amazon’s blatant disregard for the health and safety of its own workforce was demonstrated yet again by its insistence for an in-person election in the middle of the pandemic. Today’s decision proves that it’s long past time that Amazon start respecting its own employees; and allow them to cast their votes without intimidation and interference.

On Monday, 6,000 employees started voting on whether to unionize with the RWDSU. Amazon is the second-largest private employer in the US. This would be the first union at an Amazon facility in the US, and this is Amazon’s first union election in the US since 2014.

There have also been other organizing movements with tech companies Kickstarter and Google over the past year. In February 2020, employees at the crowdfunding tech company Kickstarter elected to unionize, marking the first successful move toward worker organization at a major tech company. On January 4, more than 200 employees at Google and Alphabet formed the Alphabet Workers Union, which is affiliated with the Communication Workers of America union.