Newswire : Amazon wins Bessemer union election; union to file Unfair Labor Practices complaint to overturn election

union worker on picket line

By: Jason Del Ray, VOX

Out of 2,536 workers who voted in the union election at Amazon’s Bessemer, Alabama facility (known as BHM1), 1,798 voted against unionization compared to 738 who voted to unionize. Ballots from another 505 workers were challenged by either Amazon or the union, but those votes won’t change the outcome, so the election is over. In a virtual press event organized by Amazon after the vote count ended, four Bessemer warehouse workers who voted against unionizing said they believe the union lost because most colleagues appreciate the benefits they already have at Amazon and didn’t think they need a union to make changes. “The union said that we would never have a seat at the table on our own, but we actually have a seat at the table,” said an Amazon worker named William Stokes. “Now we’re talking with senior management. … Over the next 100 days, we are going to talk about things that we want to change. So change will come out of this.”Stokes did not provide details of the changes sought.  Around the same time, pro-union Amazon workers appeared with union officials at a separate virtual press event. The message they tried to get across was that they are not done speaking up or fighting for what they feel they deserve. “Bezos, you are wrong, you are wrong all the way around,” one Amazon worker, Linda Burns, said, referencing Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. “You misled a lot of our people.” Amazon pushed hard to convince workers to vote against unionization. The company set up an anti-union website that harped on the fact that union dues would cost full-time workers close to $500 a year. What the company didn’t say on the website is that, in Alabama, unions can’t require workers to pay union dues. So a union at Amazon’s BHM1 wouldn’t be able to force workers to become members and pay dues or fees. Even in such a situation, these employees would still be covered by a union contract and would be represented by the union if the company violated the agreement in a way that harmed the worker.  Amazon also convened mandatory in-person meetings during worker shifts to stress the downsides of unions, sending frequent texts to workers with anti-union messages and encouraging them to vote no. The company went so far as to post anti-union flyers on employee bathroom stall doors.  The retail giant also did something else that appears to be even more controversial. Amazon pressed the United States Postal Service to install a mailbox on the grounds of the Bessemer warehouse right before voting started — and after the NLRB denied the company’s request to place a ballot drop box on the property. Some workers have said they were intimidated by the installation of the mailbox, as well as the messages from Amazon to use it, and believe that the company wanted to monitor who voted.  Amazon spokesperson Heather Knox previously told the Washington Post that “the RWDSU (Retail, Warehouse and Department Store Union)… pushed for a mail-only election, which the NLRB’s own data showed would reduce turnout. This mailbox — which only the USPS had access to — was a simple, secure, and completely optional way to make it easy for employees to vote, no more and no less.” The mailbox and the anti-union messaging around dues will both likely come up in the union’s complaints. The NLRB said that the parties “have five business days to file objections contesting the conduct or results of the election,” and RWDSU has already said it will file unfair labor practice charges against Amazon for certain behavior during the campaign and election. The NLRB could choose to hold a hearing to find out more about the union’s claims if an investigation deems them credible. The labor board could then choose to throw out the results and call for a new election if it sides with the union

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