Amazon’s Alabama Warehouse To Vote Next Month On Trade Union

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Second chance. Workers and staff at Amazon fulfilment centre in Bessemer, Alabama will vote next month whether it should unionise

Amazon will have to contend with another trade union vote at its fulfilment centre in Bessemer, Alabama.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) had authorised a new union election at the warehouse, otherwise known known as BHM1, in late November last year.

It comes after workers and staff at the facility overwhelmingly voted against joining the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union in April last year.

Image credit: Amazon
Image credit: Amazon

Trade union vote

The union vote in April was considered a test of whether it might be possible to organise workers at Amazon, the US’ second-largest employer, which has remained union-free in the country to date.

Union officials had hoped that workers might be open to the idea after the pandemic focused worldwide attention on working conditions at Amazon.

Approximately 5,800 workers at BHM1 were eligible to vote to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) – a move Amazon opposed.

However the vote quickly became a political issue, after the vote was backed by US President Joe Biden, as well as prominent Democrats including Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders as well as Stacey Abrams.

But in April last year, Amazon roundly defeated the high-profile effort to unionise, after the workers at the Bessemer, Alabama facility voted 1,798 to 738 against the project.

Alleged misconduct

But soon after that vote, the National Labor Relations Board said that evidence submitted by a retail union over Amazon’s alleged conduct at the union election in Alabama “could be grounds for overturning the vote.”

The RWDSU had alleged that Amazon’s agents unlawfully threatened employees with closure of the warehouse if they joined the union and that the company emailed a warning it would lay off 75 percent of the proposed bargaining unit because of the union.

Amazon denied those allegations.

But the NLRB was not convinced, and in August an NLRB official recommended that the vote was rerun.

Amazon meanwhile is also facing a second major labour organisation effort in the US within a year, after more than 2,000 of its warehouse workers in New York City voiced their support for a union.

New vote

Now workers at BHM1 will vote again, after CNBC reported that the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union as saying the vote at the facility will take place in early February.

Amazon workers at the Bessemer site will again cast their ballots by mail.

The NLRB will begin sending out ballots to workers on 4 February, and the votes will be counted on 28 March, the agency reportedly said.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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