Mon, 10 May 2021

Big setback for union in attempt to organize Amazon workers

Robert Besser
13 Apr 2021, 05:49 GMT+10

BESSEMER, Alabama: employees have voted against union representation at a warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama.

The final count showed 71 percent of the total vote opposed joining the union.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has overseen the election and set up multiple cameras so participants and the media could watch its agents count the votes.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, union membership fell to 11 percent of the eligible workforce in 2020, from 20 percent in 1983. Aimed at reversing the decline in membership, the U.S. labor movement has prioritized unionizing Amazon, the second-largest private employer in America.

The White House was also closely monitoring the ballot count, with Erika-Dinkel Smith, a senior member of President Joe Biden's labor engagement team, among over 250 participants who watched the vote count on a video call.

Voter turnout was some 55 percent, according to the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).

"Amazon didn't win-our employees made the choice to vote against joining a union," the company said in a Friday statement.

The vote count followed more than a week of challenges to ballots, during closed-door proceedings that could influence the final result. Stating that there have been numerous contested ballots, making it unclear how many votes are needed to declare a winner, the labor board said it would adjudicate the challenges in the coming days.

For years, Amazon has dissuaded attempts among its more than 800,000 U.S. employees to organize, and said it is following all NLRB rules and wants employees to understand each side of the fight.

Stating that the RWDSU does not represent a majority of its employees' views, the company said it wants as many of its employees as possible to vote.

Stuart Appelbaum, RWDSU president, has said more than 1,000 Amazon workers from other warehouses have asked if they could join the union. He added in a statement, "This still represents an important moment for working people and their voices will be heard."

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