Amazon workers in Alabama will get union opportunities again

But even with a second election, labor experts said that the union’s victory is far away because Amazon may appeal and try to postpone another vote.

The election for the new Amazon workers union in Bessemer, Alabama, will be based on opposition to the first vote held in April.

This move was a major blow to Amazon. Amazon spent about a year actively fighting for Bessemer’s warehouse workers to reject the union. In the end, they did it with a big advantage.

This rare reorganization was first announced by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) on Monday, which is a pioneer in the union organization movement. A spokesperson for the National Labor Relations Commission confirmed the decision, but has not yet provided details.

RWDSU accused Amazon of illegal misconduct during the first vote. In August, the NLRB hearing officer presiding over the case determined that Amazon violated labor laws and recommended that the regional director shelve the results and re-election.

The main reason for this decision was that Amazon installed a U.S. Postal Service mailbox in the parking lot before the election, which may leave the wrong impression that the company is campaigning. Security cameras in parking lots may scare away workers who think Amazon may have been monitoring their votes. During the first election, about 53% of the nearly 6,000 workers voted.

Amazon spokesman Kelly Nanter called the decision “disappointing.”

“Our employees have always been able to choose whether to join the union, and the vast majority of them chose not to join RWDSU earlier this year,” she said. “It is disappointing that the NLRB has now decided not to count these votes.”

Stuart Appelbaum, chairman of RWDSU, regarded the NLRB’s decision as a victory.

“Today’s decision confirms what we have been saying-Amazon’s intimidation and intervention prevent workers from having a fair say in whether they want to establish a union in the workplace-as the regional director pointed out, this is neither It’s illegal to accept,” he said. Said in a statement. “Amazon employees should have a say in their work, and this can only come from the union.”

But even if there is a second election, labor experts say that the union’s victory is far away. Amazon may appeal and try to postpone another vote. Even if elections are held, workers may vote against joining the union again. Last time, 1,798 workers rejected the union and 738 people voted in favor.

The repeat of the election means another battle between Amazon and RWDSU. The first election attracted national attention and focused on the way Amazon treats its employees. This is the largest union push in Amazon’s history, and it is also the second time the company has voted through organizational efforts.

Union employees at the Bessemer plant said they worked in shifts for 10 hours in the warehouse, where online orders were packaged and shipped, and there was not enough time to rest. These workers said the union may force Amazon to provide more rest time or higher wages. At the same time, Amazon argues that it has provided more than twice the minimum wage in Alabama, plus benefits, and workers do not need to pay union dues.

This is the second union attempt by Amazon employees in the past year.

A group of Amazon workers in Staten Island, New York, withdrew their petition to hold a union vote in early November. However, the worker can resubmit the petition.

The organization in New York City was led by former Amazon employee Christian Smalls without the help of a national sponsor. He said he was fired a few hours after organizing a strike last year to protest the working conditions at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.