As of the close of today’s counting in the Bessemer, Alabama Amazon Union election, “no” votes are ahead 993 to 875. It’s a positive outcome thus far for Amazon, which has managed to ward off labor organizing in its fulfillment centers for the entirety of its 27-year existence. The margin is, however, significantly smaller than the results of last year’s election, when the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store successfully forced a recount, citing several concerns around Amazon’s practices.
Tonight’s results are also not so cut and dry. In addition to 59 voided ballots, 416 are currently listed as “challenged.” As that number could turn the tied for the “yes” vote, a hearing will be held to determine whether the ballots should be added to the final tally. The nature of the challenges is unclear at the moment. Either party may have objected to including them for a variety of reasons.
The RWDSU noted in a statement offered to TechCrunch:
Every vote must be counted. Workers at Amazon endured a needlessly long and aggressive fight to unionize their workplace, with Amazon doing everything it could to spread misinformation and deceit. We will hold Amazon accountable, and we will be filing objections on their behavior. The tenacity and courage of these workers never wavered in this unnecessarily long process. Workers will have to wait just a little bit longer to ensure their voices are heard, and our union will be with them at every step to ensure their voices are heard under the law. What we do know is that this moment is historic, and the workers in Bessemer, Alabama, have inspired working people all over the country and all over the world to fight for change at their workplaces, including other organizing at Amazon around the country. This fight is the spark of the 21st century labor movement, and we know it will forever transform how Americans view unions in this country. This union election continues to show that the best way for working people to protect themselves and their families is to join together in a union.
A date for the hearing has not yet been determined, but is likely to occur over the next few weeks.
As with last year’s original election, today’s results have been closely monitored by both Amazon and the union. Amazon has fought fiercely against unionization efforts, for fear that an RWDSU foothold could mark the beginning of a cascading effect. Following early union victories, Starbucks across the country have been leading union drives. It’s a sign of changing views around labor rights, particularly among employees deemed essential workers during the pandemic.
Counting for the nearly two-month-long Bessemer mail-in vote coincides with the results of another drive in Staten Island, New York’s JFK8 fulfillment center. There the “yes” vote leads 1,518 to 1,154. Counting has ended for the night and is set to resume tomorrow morning at 9:30 AM ET.
Much like the Alabama election, JFK8’s union efforts have been met with significant pushback from Amazon. In February, former-employee-turned-organizer Christian Smalls was among three arrested over trespassing charges. Smalls refuted the charges, telling the media that they were only on-hand to provide workers with lunch.
Earlier today, CNBC reported that Amazon had hired Global Strategy Group, a firm with close ties to the Democratic Party, to help combat labor organizing efforts.