Amazon Union Drive in Alabama sees 55% turnout of voters

People protest in support of the Alabama Amazon workers’ union efforts in Los Angeles, California, March 22, 2021.

Lucy Nicholson | Reuters

According to the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, more than 3,200 ballots were released in a high-stakes union election at one of Amazon’s warehouses in Alabama.

The election was open to more than 5,800 employees at Amazon’s warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, who vote to join the RWDSU. With 3,215 votes cast, this resulted in a turnout of approximately 55%, which is higher than what the RWDSU had initially estimated.

Employees had until March 29 to submit their ballots by mail. Vote counting began last week via a private video conference chaired by NLRB, where Amazon and the union could contest ballots based on factors such as an illegible signature or whether someone’s job classification gives them the right to vote.

The public portion of the vote is expected to begin as early as Thursday or Friday morning, the RWDSU said.

According to the RWDSU, hundreds of ballots were challenged, mainly by Amazon. If the margin of victory is less than the total number of disputed ballots, the final count will be paused until those challenges are resolved through a hearing held by NLRB. All accepted ballots are then added to the count.

More legal challenges may come as Amazon or the union have the ability to challenge the election results, which could further delay the outcome.

The election in Bessemer has become a closely monitored event inside and outside Amazon as it would form the first union in one of the US e-commerce giant’s warehouses.

Bessemer unionists have raised a number of concerns about the lightning-fast pace of work, a lack of adequate break time, and other grievances. However, Amazon has maintained that it doesn’t need a union to get between him and its employees.

Representatives of Amazon and NLRB did not immediately respond to a request for comment.