On the Picket Line

New union votes set at Amazon Alabama, New York warehouses

By Brian Williams
February 14, 2022

The National Labor Relations Board has set a second union election at the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, to begin Feb. 4, ruling the notoriously anti-union company, owned by billionaire Jeff Bezos, intimidated workers and corrupted the earlier vote. The balloting on whether the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union will represent workers will be conducted by mail-in ballots, to be counted by the NLRB beginning March 28.

The RWDSU lost the first election last April by a more than 2-to-1 margin, with 738 votes for the union, 1,798 against, and 2,759 not casting a ballot. The union challenged the results, documenting harassment and violations of a fair election, and won.

In its Jan. 11 statement setting the date for the second election, the NLRB wrote that Amazon “interfered with the employees’ exercise of a free and reasoned choice by creating the appearance of irregularity in the election procedure by causing a mailbox to be installed outside the Employer’s main entrance and by improperly polling employees’ support during mandatory meetings.”

Nearly half of the more than 6,100 warehouse workers in the Bessemer warehouse today have been hired since the first union vote.

Leading up to the balloting, Amazon bosses have ramped up an anti-union drive, as was done prior to the first vote, by forcing workers to attend anti-union harangues at work and posting anti-union bulletins in the bathrooms. Union supporter Isaiah Thomas told the media he was reprimanded for advocating the union in the warehouse during his break.

At another Amazon warehouse in Staten Island, New York, workers have obtained enough signatures — from 30% of the 5,000 workers at the facility — to hold a union election there, the NLRB said Jan. 26.

The company has been “threatening, surveilling, and interrogating” members of the Amazon Labor Union and other warehouse workers “engaged in a union-organizing campaign,” Kathy Drew King, a regional director for the NLRB, reported Jan. 27 in response to a complaint by the union. A hearing on the complaint is scheduled for April 5.