Story at a glance
- Workers in Bessemer, Ala., voted 1,798-738 against unionizing.
- The vote was spearheaded by a joint partnership between the Amazon employees and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.
- Workers cite safety hazards as some of their primary concerns.
When the final votes were tallied Friday it was made official: _n a historic vote Amazon warehouse workers in Alabama voted not to form the company’s first U.S. union.
Workers in Bessemer, Ala., voted 1,798-738 against unionizing.
The vote was spearheaded by a joint partnership between the Amazon employees and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). The union would have been called BAmazon if the majority of workers voted for it to be created.
Voting officially came to a close on March 29.
During the election, a scandal unfolded involving a mailbox being installed in front of the Bessemer warehouse. Leaked emails reveal that Amazon executives had requested it be installed by the USPS.
Advocates say that the mailbox could intimidate voting warehouse workers into thinking Amazon officials had sway and involvement in the election outcome.
Amazon spokespeople have defended the company’s actions as simply trying to facilitate employee voting.
“Our system is broken, Amazon took full advantage of that, and we will be calling on the labor board to hold Amazon accountable for its illegal and egregious behavior during the campaign,” RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum said on Thursday. “This still represents an important moment for working people and their voices will be heard.”
The case has garnered national attention, primarily due to Amazon’s powerhouse status and its history of quashing unionizing efforts.
Recent polling suggests that about 77 percent of Americans support the union efforts on part of Amazon employees. High-profile politicians, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), and President Biden have all supported the unionization effort.
“America is standing shoulder to shoulder with Amazon workers in Bessemer,” Appelbaum continued. “People across the country and of all backgrounds recognize the systematic injustice that Amazon is inflicting on its own workers. This fight is universal—it’s a struggle for the fundamental rights and dignities that all working people deserve.”
One of the primary motivators catalyzing the union drive is the myriad workplace safety issues employees have highlighted, including challenging work quotas and poor pathways to file grievances outside of the company’s human resources department.