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Union rep at Amazon warehouse

A union organizer waves to cars outside an Amazon fulfillment center on March 27, 2021 in Bessemer, Alabama. (Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images)

Alabama Amazon Workers Win New Vote to Unionize

"No more union busting," said one workers' rights advocate. "It is time for Amazon warehouse workers to have a union."

Julia Conley

Workers' rights advocates on Tuesday applauded a decision by the National Labor Relations Board to hold a new union election at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama nearly a year after employees accused the multinational company of union-busting conduct that unfairly influenced the result of the previous election.

"A reminder of the shameful anti-union behavior of Bezos and Amazon management and the need to pass the Pro Act bill to protect workers' rights to form a union."

Employees at BHM1 warehouse will begin voting on February 4 and will have until March 25 to return their ballots, with the NLRB supervising the election.

The board said in a notice posted Tuesday that it had "set aside" the results of last year's election—which opposed unionization by nearly two-to-one—because the company "interfered with the employees' exercise of a free and reasoned choice."

In complaints filed with the NLRB after the election, employees said the company installed a mailbox for ballots outside the warehouse, alleging that Amazon security guards had access to the box and were seen opening it at least once. The mailbox gave "the appearance of irregularity in the election procedure," said the board on Tuesday.

The company has also been accused of handing out items with anti-union slogans at mandatory meetings and texting workers messages including, "Don't let outsiders divide our winning team."

"No more union busting," said Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, currently running for the U.S. Senate, in response to the news. "It is time for Amazon warehouse workers to have a union."

National Nurses United communications director Charles Idelson expressed hope for a fair election and noted that passage of the PRO Act would protect workers at Amazon and other companies from anti-union tactics.

The NLRB announced the new election three weeks after the company reached a settlement with the board regarding the cases of six workers who accused Amazon of union-busting.

Under the settlement, Amazon agreed to communicate with workers about their right to organize and to lift its ban on workers being on Amazon property longer than 15 minutes before or after their shifts.

The Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU), which organized the union drive at BHM1, acknowledged that the NLRB overturned the "tainted" results of last year's election, but said it was still "deeply concerned" that the NLRB's plan to supervise next month's vote will not "adequately prevent Amazon from continuing its objectionable behavior."

RWDSU had requested an in-person election and "on-site access to talk to workers," according to HuffPost reporter Dave Jamieson.

"Workers' voices can and must be heard fairly, unencumbered by Amazon's limitless power to control what must be a fair and free election, and we will continue to hold them accountable for their actions," said the union.

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