Collective bargaining —
With almost half the Bessemer votes counted, there were 463 yeses and 1,100 nos.
A closely watched attempt to unionize an Amazon satisfaction center in Bessemer, Alabama seems to be led for defeat. With about half of the votes counted, 1,100 employees have voted against forming a union, while just 463 voted in favor.
The National Labor Relations Board is counting on the 3,215 votes that were cast by employees at the Bessemer centre. The union should succeed at least half of the votes in order to become the official representative of the roughly 6,000 employees at the Bessemer facility. Counting has stopped for the day and is scheduled to resume at 830 AM Central Time on Friday.
The stakes are high for both Amazon and the labor movement. Amazon has over 1.1 million workers overall, with hundreds of thousands working in satisfaction centers. A successful vote in Bessemer would embolden labour organizers in other Amazon fulfillment centers across the nation. An coordinated workforce could force dramatic changes in how Amazon handles its warehouses.
“We first started to talk about unionizing one day during a break,” stated Jennifer Bates, a worker at the Bessemer warehouse that helped arrange the union drive, during March Senate testimony. “People were upset about the breaks being too short and not having enough time to rest, about being humiliated to have to go through security checks.”
Amazon mounted an aggressive campaign against unionization. The business published anti-union literature all on its facilities, including in bathroom stalls. Workers were required to attend regular meetings where Amazon introduced anti-union arguments.
Union elections are ordinarily held in person, but this one has been held by mail because of coronavirus concerns. As a result, a close election could cause weeks of legal wrangling over which ballots were cast by eligible workers. But in case the present two-to-one margin stays up, the marriage might have to concede quickly.
That is not to say organizers are going to give up.
“Our system is broken,” said Stuart Appelbaum, the president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union that led the organizing campaign, in a announcement to the Washington Post. “We will be calling on the labor board to hold Amazon accountable for its illegal and egregious behavior during the campaign.”