Union advocates are narrowly narrowing rivals in union elections at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama, the National Labor Relations Board said on Thursday. But the figure is much closer than a vote at the same warehouse last year, when workers rejected unions by more than 2:1.
The union had 875 yes versus 993 no votes, but more than 400 opposed votes were enough to potentially affect the outcome. The challenges will be addressed at a labor board hearing in the coming weeks.
Overall, approximately 2,300 ballots were cast in the election in Bessemer, Ala., of more than 6,100 eligible employees.
The labor council requested the amendment, which was mailed between early February and late March, after concluding that Amazon had breached so-called laboratory conditions that were supposed to apply. used in a union election.
Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Association of Department Stores, Wholesale and Retail, which has sought to organize workers, said: “Regardless of the end result, the workers here have shown what. maybe. “They helped spark a movement.”
Speaking in a videoconference with reporters after the vote was counted, Mr. Appelbaum said organizing in Bessemer helped spark union campaigns at other companies, such as REI and Starbucks, and in other regions. of the country.
Amazon did not respond to a request for comment.
The labor council is also counting votes in another high-profile election, at an Amazon warehouse on Staten Island. At the end of the first day of counting on Thursday, 57% of the votes were in favor of being represented by the Amazon Labor Union and 43% were against. The NLRB said the count would end on Friday.
Pro-union workers in Bessemer report frustration at low wages, insufficient time off and overly demanding productivity targets. Amazon has said its wages — just under $16 per hour for new, full-time workers — are competitive in the region. It also points to a benefits package it says is attractive, including complete wellness benefits for full-time employees as soon as they join the company. The company says its operational goals reflect individual employee experience and safety considerations.
Some pro-union employees said colleagues were generally less afraid to question management or show union support this year than in last year’s election. “People are asking more questions,” Jennifer Bates, an employee who helped lead the organizing effort both last year and this year, said in an interview this month. “Many employees are standing up and speaking out.”
The union also cited key differences in its approach to the recent election. Last year, the union limited in-person organizing efforts because of Covid-19 safety concerns, but this time their organizers visited workers from home. Other unions have sent organizers to Alabama to support these efforts.
Workers are also more active in organizing in the factory. They wear union t-shirts to work twice a week to show support, and one group sent out a petition to managers with more than 100 signatures complaining about not enough time off. and equipment in the room.
Still, Amazon retains an edge, especially given its high employee turnover rate, which makes it difficult for organizers to maintain momentum as disgruntled workers simply leave their jobs. surname.
The company has also been generous in its efforts to convince employees to support the union, hiring consultants and holding more than 20 anti-union meetings with employees each day before the mail ballots are put in place. in early February. In a Labor Department filing released Thursday, Amazon revealed that it spent more than $4 million on labor consultants last year. It has yet to disclose how much it has spent on consultants this year.
Coalition advocates accuse Amazon of removing them from meetings to silence criticism and protest, but Amazon denies the allegation.
The vote count announced Thursday is in line with a broader trend in the reorganization of elections, more than half of which unions have lost since 2010.