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Saturday, August 13, 2022

There will be challenges in Alabama after the Union Trails in Amazon Vote

According to the National Labor Relations Board, union supporters are just a hair ahead of their opponents in a union election at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama, which was held on Thursday. However, the result was much closer than the previous year’s ballot at the same warehouse, in which employees rejected the union by a margin of more than 2-to-1.

However, despite the fact that the union received 875 yes votes to 993 negative votes, the more than 400 challenged ballots are sufficient to possibly change the decision. In the next weeks, a hearing before the Labor Board will be held to settle the issues at hand.

The election in Bessemer, Ala., received around 2,300 votes in total, out of a total of more than 6,100 eligible workers who cast ballots.

After deciding that Amazon had breached the so-called laboratory circumstances that are meant to exist during a union election, the labour board ordered a rerun of the poll, which was conducted by mail from early February to late March.

Employees at this location have shown what is possible, according to Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union, which attempted to organise the employees in question. “They have played a role in igniting a movement.”

Appelbaum told reporters via videoconference after the results were announced that the organising in Bessemer has sparked union efforts at other corporations, including REI and Starbucks, and in other regions of the nation as a result of the organising in Bessemer.

An inquiry for comment was sent to Amazon, which did not reply.

At the same time, the labour board is tallying ballots in another high-profile election, this one taking place at an Amazon facility on Staten Island. Thursday’s first day of voting revealed that 57 percent of those who voted favoured being represented by the Amazon Labor Union, while 43 percent were against. According to the N.L.R.B., the count should be completed by Friday.

Employees in Bessemer who backed the union expressed their dissatisfaction with low wages, insufficient breaks, and too aggressive production expectations, among other things. Amazon claims that their compensation, which is little less than $16 per hour for full-time, entry-level employees, is competitive in the region. It has also emphasised the attractiveness of the firm’s benefits package, which includes comprehensive health insurance coverage for full-time workers as soon as they begin working for the company. According to the organisation, its performance objectives are based on safety factors as well as the experience of individual workers.

Several employees who supported the union said that their coworkers were typically less reluctant to criticise management or express their union support this year than they were during the last election cycle. Jen Bates, an employee who assisted with the organising effort both last year and this year, said in an interview earlier this month that “people are asking more questions.”

In addition, the union identified significant contrasts in its approach to the most recent election. Last year, the union limited in-person organising operations due to safety concerns around Covid-19, but this time around, its organisers contacted employees at their places of employment. To assist with these efforts, other labour organisations despatched organisers to the state of Alabama.

Workers also looked to be more involved in organising inside the factory, according to the data. Their support was shown by wearing union T-shirts to work twice a week to show their solidarity, and one group handed a petition to management with more than 100 signatures, which complained about insufficient breaks and poor break room equipment.

While Amazon had several benefits, one of the most significant was its high rate of employee turnover, which made it difficult for organisers to maintain momentum as dissatisfied employees just quit their positions rather than fight back.

The corporation also seemed to spend lavishly on its campaign to discourage workers from supporting the union, employing consultants and hosting more than 20 anti-union meetings with employees every day in the weeks leading up to the distribution of postal votes in early February, according to documents. Amazon acknowledged on Thursday that it had spent more than $4 million on labour advisers in the previous year, according to a Labor Department document issued on Thursday. It has not yet revealed how much money it spent on consultants this year, if anything.

Union supporters said that Amazon excluded them from meetings in order to keep criticism and reaction to a minimum, but Amazon rejected the allegations.

The results published on Thursday were consistent with a larger pattern in rerun elections, in which unions have lost more than half of all rerun contests since 2010.

Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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