Retail

Counting the Votes Begins at Amazon's Alabama Warehouse

A unionization vote is over at the Bessemer, Alabama, warehouse belonging to Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN). All that’s left to is count the votes and see which side wins.

Approximately 5,800 employees were eligible to vote in the election and the outcome will be decided by a simple majority of votes cast. No filibuster is in play, but the vote-counting process could delay results until next week.

According to the New York Times, the first step in the counting will be making sure the name on the ballot’s outer envelope is also on the employee list. Contested ballots will be set aside to be counted later if necessary.

Once both sides have agreed on which ballots will be counted, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) will open the anonymous inner envelopes and begin the count. After each block of 100 votes is counted the NLRB will count the ballots again in a process that will continue until all uncontested votes are counted.

The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) is seeking to represent workers at the plant and Amazon has not been shy about opposing the union’s efforts. The company held regular (and mandatory) “information sessions” about union representation but had to stop these once voting began. Amazon continues to post banners and fliers urging employees to reject the RWDSU.

There are a number of possible snags to getting a result of the voting out even by next week. If there are more contested than uncontested votes, a legal challenge is likely. Similarly, either side may contest whether the vote was completed fairly.

The RWDSU claims to have received inquiries from “hundreds” of Amazon workers at other facilities since the Alabama organizing effort began. The union has been endorsed by Georgia’s Stacey Abrams, Florida’s U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, and President Joe Biden, among others.

Amazon has said that the company “[doesn’t] believe the RWDSU represents the majority of our employees’ views. Our employees choose to work at Amazon because we offer some of the best jobs available everywhere we hire.”

Jennifer Bates, one of the pro-union workers at the warehouse, told NPR, “It could be an awesome place to work … but there are some things that need to be repaired. And so I chose and others chose to stand up and do something about it.”