Amazon workers in Alabama get another chance at unionizing

Jan. 12, 2022 4:11 AM, Inc. (AMZN)By: Yoel Minkoff, SA News Editor56 Comments

Congressional Delegation Meets With Alabama Amazon Workers In Unionization Push

Megan Varner/Getty Images News

  • As unionization drives heat up across the nation, one important battle is getting a do-over. A second high-stakes election has been set for Amazon's (NASDAQ:AMZN) warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, known as BHM1, after 71% of workers there voted against joining the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) last April. While union supporters have sought better work conditions and benefits, many voters didn't feel a union would improve that situation, according to interviews.
  • At play: The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ordered another vote after finding Amazon (AMZN) improperly interfered and broke labor laws in the first election. Among the violations was the improper polling of workers' support for the union during mandatory company meetings, as well as a decision to install a mailbox at the facility, which gave a false impression that Amazon (AMZN) was conducting the election and could have intimidated workers. Amazon says it didn't intimidate Alabama workers to vote against union.
  • Ballots for the coming election will be sent to workers on Feb. 4, and the votes will be tallied on March 28. While both Amazon (AMZN) and the RWDSU don't like the idea of a mail-in election, NLRB Region 10 Director Lisa Henderson said that such a ballot is "the safest and most appropriate method of conducting a prompt election in view of the extraordinary circumstances presented by the pandemic." Both sides will also be prohibited from putting up a tent, banner or sign around the ballot drop box or make any kind of "statement to voters concerning use of the mailbox for the purposes of this election."
  • Go deeper: While labor unions have organized some of Amazon's (AMZN) workforce in Europe, no American facility has yet successfully formed or joined a union. Amazon (AMZN) is concerned that a union win - similar to the first victory seen at Starbucks in December - would disrupt the company's control over employees, like the pace of work and hourly wages. The campaign resurgence in Alabama could also advance existing union drives in the U.S., with Amazon (AMZN) workers filing for an election in Staten Island, as well as other efforts like Amazonians United Chicagoland. Biden voices support for Amazon union vote in Alabama.
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