Amazon union drive in Alabama sees 55% voter turnout

People protest in Los Angeles, California on March 22, 2021 to support workers’ union efforts in the Alabama Amazon.

Lucy Nicholson | Reuters

According to the retail, wholesale and department store union, more than 3,200 ballots were cast in a high-stakes union election at one of Amazon’s warehouses in Alabama.

The election was open to more than 5,800 employees at Amazon’s Bessemer, Alabama warehouse, who will vote on whether to join RWDSU. With a total of 3,215 ballot papers submitted, the turnout was around 55%, which is higher than originally estimated by the RWDSU.

Workers had until March 29 to hand in their ballot papers. The counting of votes began last week via a private videoconference chaired by the NLRB, at which Amazon and the union could contest ballots based on factors such as an illegible signature or whether a person’s occupational classification qualifies them to vote.

The public part of the vote count is expected to begin on Thursday or Friday morning, announced the RWDSU.

According to RWDSU, hundreds of ballots, mostly from Amazon, have been challenged. If the profit margin is less than the total number of contested ballots, the final balance will be temporarily paused until these challenges are resolved through a hearing from the NLRB. All accepted ballots will then be added to the list.

There could be more legal challenges ahead as either Amazon or the union have the option to question the election results, which could further delay the outcome.

The Bessemer election has become a closely watched event inside and outside Amazon as it would create the first union in one of the e-commerce giant’s warehouses in the US

Bessemer workers in favor of the union have raised a number of questions regarding breakneck pace, lack of adequate break time and other grievances. However, Amazon has claimed it doesn’t take a union to get between him and his workers.

Representatives from Amazon and the NLRB did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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