BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Unionization efforts for Amazon’s Bessemer fulfillment facility have not ended. Last week, the votes were counted; 16 percent of employees voted in favor of a union.
Union representatives claim Amazon illegally interfered with the election by intimidating and manipulating employees.
The Retail Wholesale Department Store Union would have represented Amazon employees and campaigned for employees to unionize. The vote tally does not mean a victory for Amazon said RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum.
“Make no mistake, this election is far from over!” said Appelbaum.
After months of aggressive campaigning from both sides, 1,798 warehouse workers ultimately rejected the union while 738 voted in favor of it, according to the National Labor Relations Board, who is overseeing the process.
Of the 3,117 votes cast, 76 were voided for being filled out incorrectly and 505 were contested by either Amazon or the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union, which led the organizing efforts in Bessemer. But the NLRB said the contested votes were not enough to sway the outcome. About 53% of the nearly 6,000 workers cast their ballots.
Appelbaum said he plans to file a lawsuit against Amazon this week, for its role in the election.
“Amazon broke the law, repeatedly,” he said. “That cannot be tolerated. Amazon must be held to account.”
Amazon employees that have fought for the union said that fight will continue.
“We’re not backing down,” said Jennifer Bates, an Amazon employee. “We started this thing, and we lit the fire. And guess what? The fire has not gone down.”
Bates said her employer interfered with the election, which she said swayed workers’ votes.
“There were illegal things taking place,” said Bates. “And fear tactics [were] done to people who didn’t have any idea about what a union could do for them.”
The unionization effort captured international attention. Union supporters said, regardless of the outcome, their efforts made a difference.
“Y’all have shed a light to give everyone else around the world confidence to be able to stand up for themselves right now,” said Mike Foster, a union advocate.
In a statement from Amazon, the company said, in part, “It’s easy to predict the union will say that Amazon won this election because we intimidated employees, but that’s not true. Our employees heard far more anti-Amazon messages from the union, policymakers, and media outlets than they heard from us. And Amazon didn’t win—our employees made the choice to vote against joining a union.”