The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has denied a set of motions from Amazon that sought to delay a union election at a company warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama. Employees at the warehouse are set to begin voting on whether to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) on Monday, February 8th.
Amazon had filed two motions to delay the proceeding, including an effort to force an in-person vote, in spite of ongoing pandemic risks. Both motions were denied by the NLRB.
“Once again Amazon workers have won another fight in their effort to win a union voice,” said the RWDSU in a statement. “Today’s decision proves that it’s long past time that Amazon start respecting its own employees; and allow them to cast their votes without intimidation and interference.”
Reached for comment, Amazon said it believed the decision would result in fewer employees voting. “We’re disappointed by the decision by the NLRB not to provide the most fair and effective format to achieve maximum employee participation,” a company representative said. “Even the National Labor Relations Board recognizes that the employee participation rate for its own elections conducted with mail ballots is 20 to 30 percent lower than the participation rate for in-person voting.”
Amazon has had a rocky response to unionization efforts in its warehouses. In 2020, Amazon coordinated efforts to publicly demean an employee organizer at a Staten Island warehouse — notes from a coordinating meeting were later obtained by Vice News. Later that year, reporters caught the company recruiting analysts to monitor “labor organizing threats.” The listing was removed shortly afterward.
Many of Amazon’s European fulfillment centers are organized; workers in Germany went on strike last June over allegedly inadequate coronavirus protections.
Update 4:22PM ET: Added statement from Amazon.