The final tally on whether to unionize an Amazon (NASDAQ:) warehouse in Alabama wasn’t expected until late in the day Friday, but it looked like the push would be overwhelmingly defeated. The National Labor Relations Board counted almost half the ballots by 4 p.m. Pacific and found that the number of votes against organizing outnumbered those in favor of it by more than two to one.
Amazon workers vote against the union
According to CNET, as of that time, 1,100 of the ballots were against the union, while 463 were in favor of it. The vote count was paused until 4:30 a.m. Pacific Friday morning, and the final results were expected later that day.
Workers at the Bessemer, Ala., warehouse had seven weeks to vote on whether to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. Approximately 5,800 employees were eligible to vote, and more than 3,200 sent in their ballots. It was a historic vote that could have unionized the first Amazon location in the U.S., but it looks like the union was defeated.
Amazon reportedly challenged hundreds of ballots before the count started due to questions about whether they were from employees who were eligible to vote.
Details on the count
The count was live-streamed so reporters and observers could watch it. It was held at an NLRB office in a hearing room with two observers watching in person in a small gallery. An NLRB agent looked at each ballot under a camera and called out “yes” or “no” after reading it. Observers could object to a ballot if the intention of the voter appeared unclear, but they objected to very few ballots. Amazon pulled ahead in the voting early and stayed ahead throughout the count on Thursday.
After the NLRB finishes counting the ballots, it will give the final tally if one side wins by a wide enough margin that the contested ballots wouldn’t change the result. If the vote is too close to call, the organization will enter litigation to resolve those contested ballots in a process that might take weeks.
Amazon fought against the union
Amazon fought hard against the union by attempting to convince employees to vote against it. It’s unclear just how much of an effect that the online retailer’s efforts had on the vote. Among the steps Amazon reportedly took to combat the union effort is hiring an anti-union consultant for $3,200 per day.
The company also reportedly held mandatory meetings for workers to explain why they shouldn’t vote to unionize. Amazon also argued that it treats its employees well already and touted its starting wage, which is almost double the state’s minimum wage.
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