Union supporters are bracing for a loss in Alabama as labor officials count the ballots cast by Amazon warehouse workers in the most closely watched union election in years.
Officials of the National Labor Relations Board made it nearly halfway through the vote tally on Thursday before breaking for the night. The “no” votes led the “yes” votes by 1,100 to 463.
The counting will resume Friday morning, with the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union needing to make up significant ground. The union would have to secure a simple majority of votes cast in order to win.
The union’s president, Stuart Appelbaum, issued a statement Thursday night suggesting the union planned to challenge the election results based on Amazon’s conduct.
“Our system is broken,” Appelbaum said. “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. But make no mistake about it; this still represents an important moment for working people and their voices will be heard.”
More than 3,200 workers cast ballots in the election out of roughly 5,800 who received them. If the RWDSU were to win, it would create the first union at an Amazon warehouse in the U.S.
The seven-week mail-in election presented the most serious union threat to Amazon’s U.S. operations to date. The labor effort drew support from across the country and abroad, with Amazon critics eager to see a showdown over the online retailer’s working conditions.
The company has fought the organizing effort aggressively, hiring “union avoidance” consultants who specialize in beating back union drives. Managers and consultants held mandatory anti-union meetings and subjected the workforce to anti-union literature and texts.
If the union fights the results, there would be a hearing to investigate the union’s claims against Amazon. NLRB officials could potentially set aside the results and order a new election if they find Amazon’s behavior to be as egregious as the RWDSU has portrayed it.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.