New union election ordered at Amazon warehouse in Alabama

A top National Labor Relations Board official on Monday ordered that the union election at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Ala., be held again after objections were filed against the e-commerce giant’s initial victory.

The regional director’s decision to have the election rerun follows a recommendation from an agency hearing office, which faulted Amazon for having a mailbox installed outside the facility just after mail-in voting began and for polling employees by distributing "vote no" paraphernalia to senior staff.

“The election that commenced on February 8, 2021, was set aside because the National Labor Relations Board found the Employer interfered with the employees’ exercise of a free and reasoned choice by creating the appearance of irregularity in the election procedure due to issues surrounding the installation of a mailbox outside the main entrance and by improperly polling employees’ support during mandatory meetings,” Monday’s decision reads.

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The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which would represent the workers at the Bessemer warehouse in the event of a victory, celebrated the decision. 

"Today’s decision confirms what we were saying all along — that Amazon’s intimidation and interference prevented workers from having a fair say in whether they wanted a union in their workplace — and as the Regional Director has indicated, that is both unacceptable and illegal," the group’s president, Stuart Appelbaum, said in a statement.

"Amazon workers deserve to have a voice at work, which can only come from a union," he added. 

Amazon has an opportunity to request a review of the decision.

Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel said in a statement to The Hill that the company’s employees “have always had the choice” whether to join a union or not.

“It’s disappointing that the NLRB has now decided that those votes shouldn’t count,” she added. "As a company, we don’t think unions are the best answer for our employees.”

Workers at the Bessemer warehouse initially voted 1,798-738 in April against unionizing. An additional 505 ballots were not counted.

Winning a second election, especially with that lopsided of a first vote, will be an uphill battle for the union.