People demonstrate in support of the organizing efforts of Alabama Amazon workers in Los Angeles, California on March 22, 2021.
Lucy Nicholson | Reuters
More than 3,200 votes were cast in a high-stakes union election at one of Amazon’s warehouses in Alabama, according to the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.
The election was open to more than 5,800 employees at Amazon’s warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, who vote to join the RWDSU. With 3,215 total ballots, this resulted in a turnout of around 55%, which is higher than what the RWDSU initially estimated.
Workers had until March 29 to submit their ballots by mail. The count began last week via a private video conference, chaired by the NLRB, during which Amazon and the union could challenge the ballots based on factors such as an illegible signature or whether the job classification of one person allowed them to vote.
The public part of the vote count is expected to begin as early as Thursday or Friday morning, RWDSU said.
Hundreds of ballots were disputed, mostly by Amazon, according to RWDSU. If the margin of victory ends up being less than the total number of contested ballots, the final tally will be temporarily suspended until those challenges are resolved via a hearing held by the NLRB. All accepted ballots will then be added to the count.
There could still be more legal challenges in store, as either Amazon or the union have the option to challenge the election results, which could further delay the outcome.
The Bessemer election became a closely watched event inside and outside Amazon, as it would establish the first union in one of the e-commerce giant’s warehouses in the United States.
Union-friendly Bessemer employees raised a number of issues regarding the hectic pace of work, lack of break time and other grievances. However, Amazon argued that it didn’t need a union to come between it and its workers.
Amazon and NLRB representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.