Workers in Bessemer, Alabama, voted over a seven-week period and returned ballotswhether to form the first American Amazon union. About 5,800 workers were eligible to vote, and 3,215 returned their ballots. Hundreds of ballot papers were reportedly challenged prior to the count based on questions about whether the employee was eligible for election.
The vote count, which was monitored live for observers and journalists, took place in an NLRB office in a small consultation room with two personal observers in a small gallery. An NLRB agent processed each poll by placing it under a camera and shouting “No!” or “Yes!” when he read the results. Observers had the chance to object to ballots if a voter’s intention seemed unclear, but this rarely came up. Amazon took an early lead in the number of votes and remained ahead all the time.
After counting the ballots, the NLRB provides a final statement, if a party wins by a wide margin, that the challenged ballots could not change the results. If the margin is too narrow, the agency will address the challenges in litigation that can take weeks.
Amazon was fighting fiercely against the union drive, reportedly hiring an anti-union consultant at a rate of $ 3,200 a day, demanding that employees attend training sessions that argued against unions. The company claimed that it already treats its workers well with a starting salary that is almost twice as large as the region’s minimum wage as well as health, pension and education benefits. A highly unionized workforce could increase Amazon’s costs and potentially impact the use of robot technology and automation in Amazon’s warehouses.
Although Amazon is the clear winner, the union could object to the election on the basis of unfair work practices or election management that misled the result. In this scenario, RWDSU would have one week to object to the election. If the National Board of Health and Welfare decides in RWDSU’s favor, the Agency may order a re-election.