Pro-union workers believe failed Amazon vote could be ‘start of something bigger’

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BESSEMER, Ala. (WIAT) — On Friday, workers at Amazon’s Fulfilment Center in Bessemer voted to not unionize, with nearly 55% of the votes being against it.

If the vote had passed, the facility would be the first one to unionize under Amazon.

Though the results of the election didn’t go in the way for workers in favor nor the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union plan to continue the fight.

“The labor union is alive and we will keep fighting,” Amazon worker Emmit Ashford said.

Ashford, along with fellow worker Linda Burns, believes workers at the facility were intimidated by Amazon to vote against unionizing.

“Being misled and manipulated and lied to,” Ashford said.

“You told us that they was going to take all of our money. Well, you’re taking all of our money,” Burns said.

Based on how the results turned out, RWDSU President Stuart Applebaum said they plan to contest the vote because they believe it wasn’t a fair and free election.

“We will be filing multiple charges with the labor board. And we are confident that the charges will be upheld,” Applebaum said.

The union vote made national and international news. Elected leaders in the state of Alabama responded to the results. Senator Tommy Tuberville sent out a statement siding with the decision:

“The folks at Amazon’s Bessemer facility made the decision they felt is best for them, their families, and their community. But the important thing is that they had the choice. Alabama’s Right to Work law gives workers a choice in whether they want to unionize or not. It’s unfortunate to see President Biden and Democrats in Washington trying to override state laws and make forced unionization the national norm. As workers across the country and now in Bessemer have demonstrated, they value their Right to Work protections, and I’ll continue to be a strong voice for their rights in the Senate.”

-Tommy Tuberville

Congresswoman Terri Sewell of Alabama’s 7th District said that as long as the workers voted on what they believed was right, then that’s what’s important.

“I just want the workers to make that decision. Not companies and management with an upper hand. So, at the end of the day, it’s about them and the vote and making sure it was a fair and free election,” Sewell said.

Though the effort to unionize failed, pro-union workers believe this is the start of something bigger.

“That this is just a spark that has started a fire across the United States,” Ashford said.

Amazon did post on Twitter about the election. The tweet states “Thank you to the employees at our BHM1 fulfillment center in Alabama for participating in the election. There’s been a lot of noise over the past few months, and we’re glad your collective voices were finally heard.”

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