The initial results of a second union election at Amazon’s BHM1 warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama have finally come through. Workers have voted against unionization in a closely contested 993-875 vote (with 59 voided votes) out of 6,153 workers eligible to cast a ballot. Turnout appears to have been significantly lower this time around, as more than 3,000 employees cast ballots in the early 2021 vote. However, 416 votes have been challenged – more than enough to change the outcome – so the definitive result might not be available for some time.
The tally brings BHM1 to the possible end of a long and messy saga. Bessemer workers voted against unionization in early 2021, but the National Labor Relations Board ruled that Amazon violated labor laws by allegedly interfering with the vote. The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) accused Amazon of repeatedly trying to intimidate workers through measures like an unauthorized ballot box and anti-union campaign material. While Amazon disputed the claims, the NLRB ultimately ordered a second vote.
The rerun election didn’t go smoothly, either. The RWDSU has maintained that Amazon interfered with the second vote by removing pro-union posters, forcing attendance of anti-union meetings and limiting time spent on company grounds to discourage organization. Before the vote, the RWDSU also accused Amazon of illegal retaliation against worker Isaiah Thomas’ pro-union efforts. The company has again argued that its actions are legal.
BHM1 was the first major Amazon facility in the US to hold a union vote, but it’s no longer the only one. One Staten Island warehouse, JFK8, is already voting On possible unionization, and early vote totals show the grassroots Amazon Labor Union ahead by several hundred votes. Another facility in Staten Island is scheduled to hold its own unionization vote starting in late April. Simply put, there’s a growing desire for workers to have a say in their conditions at Amazon’s – whether those efforts succeed, however, remains to be seen.
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