Amazon defeats push for a union — and organizers charge the company took 'blatantly illegal actions'

Amazon defeats push for a union — and organizers charge the company took 'blatantly illegal actions'
Amazon/Shutterstock

Amazon/Shutterstock

Amazon managed to secure enough votes to halt the formation of the company's first United States union in Bessemer, Ala., according to a current tally of the votes.

According to The Verge, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has counted more than 1,700 opposing votes on the initiative. That number of votes accounts for more than half of the 3,215 ballots cast by Amazon warehouse employees. It is being reported that a total of 700 votes were tallied in favor of the measure, but approximately 500 of the ballots have been contested.

The tally comes weeks after Amazon workers voted by mail on whether or not to join the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU), an initiative Amazon has fought to prevent by way of anti-union meetings and other aggressive corporate measures.

In wake of the latest tally, the RWDSU has indicated it will appeal the election. On Friday, April 9, the RWDSU president Stuart Appelbaum released a statement criticizing the election results.

"We won't let Amazon's lies, deception, and illegal activities go unchallenged, which is why we are formally filing charges against all of the egregious and blatantly illegal actions taken by Amazon during the union vote," Appelbaum said.

The push for a union at the Bessemer, Ala., location has shed light on the unfavorable and particularly harsh working environment at Amazon facilities. Back in March, Jennifer Bates, a notable organizer who has worked to advance the union efforts, previously described the Amazon work environment as "grueling."

"We have to keep up with the pace. My workday feels like a nine-hour intense workout every day. And they track our every move -- if your computer isn't scanning, you get charged with being time-off-task," said Bates. "From the onset, I learned that if I worked too slow or had too much time-off-task I could be disciplined or even fired."

    However, in response to Bates' concerns, an Amazon spokesperson released a statement. "We take employee feedback seriously, including Ms. Bates', but we don't believe her comments represent the more than 90% of her fulfillment center colleagues who say they'd recommend Amazon as a great place to work to friends and family," the spokesperson said adding that Amazon employees "earn at least $15 an hour, receive comprehensive healthcare and paid leave benefits."

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