Amazon has challenged hundreds of ballots as vote count underway, union claims


A high-profile vote to determine whether Amazon workers in Alabama have organised the first labour union in the retail giant’s history had a 55 per cent turnout, according to the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.

Amazon has reportedly disputed hundreds of ballots, according to the union.

A public vote tally is expected to begin this week following the close of voting on 29 March.

“There remain hundreds of challenged ballots mostly by the employer that will need to be addressed after the public count,” according to a statement from the union on Wednesday night. “As the ballot envelopes are opened and the ballots are counted, there’s a possibility that more issues could impact the final results.”

The union said that 3,215 ballots were cast among the roughly 5,800 workers at the sorting facility in Bessemer, according to the National Labor Relations Board.

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A potential union in the nation’s second-largest retailer, founded by the world’s wealthiest man, could mark a turning point for US labour and reverberate in facilities across the US, as the nation faces a widening wealth gap and lingering economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic despite the growing fortunes of Amazon and other companies.

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The facility in Bessemer opened in early 2020, imprinting a $361 million investment – supported by more than $3 million in tax incentives – into the Deep South. Its workforce is 80 per cent Black.

Workers have sought better and safer working conditions, including hazard pay provisions and an end to the company’s practice of near-constant worker surveillance.

Multiple reports, testimony to Congress and meetings with lawmakers and union organisers have revealed the scope of the company’s union-busting campaign, from messages bathroom stalls to text messages to workers’ phones and one-on-one messages on the sorting facility floor.

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