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Labor board denies Amazon request to delay Alabama union vote

Labor board denies Amazon request to delay Alabama union vote
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Amazon workers at a fulfillment center in Alabama will proceed with a vote to unionize next week after the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on Friday denied Amazon’s request to delay the union election. 

The NLRB denied Amazon’s motion to request a stay of the election after the company called for a review of the board’s earlier decision and pushed for an in-person vote. 

In a two-sentence order the NLRB denied Amazon’s request, stating it “raises no substantial issues warranting review” and calling the motion to stay the election “moot.” 

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Amazon had asked the board to review its case and argued the election should take place in person, although the NLRB has held the majority of its representation elections by mail since March due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Amazon spokesperson Owen Torres said the company proposed “a safe on-site election process validated by COVID-19 experts” and will “continue to insist on measures for a fair election.”

“Our goal is for as many of our employees as possible to vote and we’re disappointed by the decision by the NLRB not to provide the most fair and effective format to achieve maximum employee participation,” Torres said in a statement. “Even the National Labor Relations Board recognizes that the employee participation rate for its own elections conducted with mail ballots is 20-30% lower than the participation rate for in-person voting.”

As of November, when the NLRB established a set of standards for mail-in ballots during the coronavirus pandemic, the board said about 90 percent of representation elections have been conducted by mail since March.

Union election ballots will be mailed to workers starting Monday, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) said in a statement. The RWDSU is conducting the unionization drive for workers at the fulfillment center in Bessemer, Ala. 

“Once again Amazon workers have won another fight in their effort to win a union voice. Amazon’s blatant disregard for the health and safety of its own workforce was demonstrated yet again by its insistence for an in-person election in the middle of the pandemic,” RWDSU president Stuart Appelbaum said in a statement. 

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“Today’s decision proves that it’s long past time that Amazon start respecting its own employees; and allow them to cast their votes without intimidation and interference,” Appelbaum added. 

Workers at the Alabama warehouses in November filed a petition to join the union. 

If successful, it would establish the first labor union representation at an Amazon facility in the U.S.

Updated: 4:08 p.m.