Respect Equality

Surprising decision recommends overturning controversial Amazon union vote

amazon union vote bessemer alabama retail worker union appelbaum objections second vote amazon illegal behavior officer unionization unionize
The Amazon fulfillment warehouse at the center of a unionization drive is seen on March 29, 2021 in Bessemer, Alabama. Employees at the fulfillment center are currently voting on whether to form a union, a decision that could have national repercussions.  Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Story at a glance

  • An official from the National Labor Relations Board recommends a second union vote among employees.
  • The review cited “illegal” behavior from Amazon.
  • Members of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union filed objections to the vote in April following the election outcome.

On Monday, an official at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a formal recommendation that Amazon workers in Alabama should get another chance to vote to form a union within the company.

This follows the widely publicized vote to unionize in April 2021 where workers at the Amazon facility in Bessemer, Ala., voted against unionization. Since it was during the pandemic, the vote was cast over mail, and the outcome set the tone for unionization efforts within Amazon and comparable large conglomerates.

Now, a hearing officer assigned to the case determined that Amazon violated labor law and encouraged the regional director to set aside the results of the April election and hold a second union vote. 

“Throughout the NLRB hearing, we heard compelling evidence how Amazon tried to illegally interfere with and intimidate workers as they sought to exercise their right to form a union. We support the hearing officer’s recommendation that the NLRB set aside the election results and direct a new election,” Stuart Appelbaum, the president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) said. “Amazon’s behavior throughout the election process was despicable. Amazon cheated, they got caught, and they are being held accountable.”


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The decision from the NLRB notes that Amazon workers endured an “intensive anti-union campaign” developed by Amazon with the intent of intimidating workers and manipulating their vote on whether or not to unionize.

These complaints were formally filed as objections on behalf of the RWDSU, and contributed to the review. The 23 objections were filed in April, just after the vote count. RWDSU members alleged that the company’s conduct “prevented a free and uncoerced exercise of choice by the employees.”

Workers will not await a formal decision from the regional director from the NLRB on whether a second union vote will be held.

In response to the finding, Amazon spokespeople noted that despite the high-profile nature of the vote, workers clearly made a choice not to unionize.

“Our employees had a chance to be heard during a noisy time when all types of voices were weighing into the national debate, and at the end of the day, they voted overwhelmingly in favor of a direct connection with their managers and the company,” an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement to NPR. “Their voice should be heard above all else, and we plan to appeal to ensure that happens.”

Appelbaum added that the initial choice to unionize garnered widespread support, including from celebrities and politicians like President Biden.

“As President Biden reminded us earlier this year, the question of whether or not to have a union is supposed to be the workers’ decision and not the employer’s,” he said.


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