Peter Endig | AFP | Getty Images
Amazon lost its urge to postpone a closely watched union vote at its warehouse in Bessemer, Ala.
Last month, Amazon appealed the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) decision to send around 6,000 warehouse workers to vote by mail to join the retail, wholesale and department stores union. In his appeal, Amazon called on the NLRB to review aspects of their previous decision and pushed for a personal choice, citing errors in the agency’s definition of a coronavirus outbreak.
On Friday, the NLRB denied Amazon’s appeal, saying it had “raised no material issues warranting a review”.
“The employer’s request to keep the upcoming election review is also rejected as disputed,” a file said.
With the NLRB rejecting Amazon’s appeal, Amazon employees at the Alabama warehouse will be able to vote by mail as planned starting next week. Workers will cast their ballots from February 8th. Ballot papers must be received by the NLRB regional office by March 29th. The following day, the board begins counting the ballot papers from 10 a.m. CT.
The decision begins with Amazon’s first major union effort since 2014, when repair technicians at a Delaware warehouse did not get enough votes to form a union. Since then, however, protests related to Prime Day and other events, as well as the coronavirus pandemic, have laid the foundation for the increasing organizational efforts of some sections of the workforce across the country.
The union effort in Alabama has proven to be a protracted labor dispute on Amazon. The company hired the same law firm that helped negotiate during the 2014 Delaware union action.
Amazon also has a website publicizing its position on the Alabama camp union. In this way, workers are encouraged to “do without fees”. Reference is made to the cost of membership when joining a union. In recent weeks, communication with the workers in the Bessemer camp has been intensified through the BHM1 union, including holding mandatory meetings, paying out flyers across the facility and sending text messages.
In a statement, RWDSU President Stuart Applebaum heralded the NLRB’s decision as a victory in the Amazon workers’ struggle for the organization and criticized Amazon’s urge to hold a personal election as a threat to their health and safety amid the pandemic.
“Once again, Amazon workers have won another battle to win a union vote,” Applebaum said in a statement. “Today’s decision shows that it has been a long time since Amazon respected its own employees and allowed them to cast their votes without intimidation or interference.”
Representatives from Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.