Amazon Seeks to Postpone Alabama Unionization Vote -- Update
By Sebastian Herrera
Amazon.com Inc. is seeking to postpone a unionization vote at a
warehouse in Alabama and is asking federal labor authorities to
reconsider a decision to allow mail-in voting due to the
The company Thursday filed an appeal to a decision by the
National Labor Relations Board, which is allowing a mail-in process
due to Covid-19 risks instead of the in-person elections that are
typical in such unionization votes.
The ballots are set to be mailed to about 6,000 workers
associated with its Bessemer, Ala. facility on Feb. 8. In its
petition, Amazon said the board's decision was flawed in part
because it had not adequately defined an outbreak, among other
Workers are seeking representation from the Retail, Wholesale
and Department Store Union. A majority of ballots cast would have
to choose unionization to gain representation. Hourly Amazon
workers have never previously formed or joined a union in the
A spokeswoman for the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store
Union declined to comment. Amazon declined to comment on its appeal
but has said it believes the best approach to an election would be
conducting it in person, saying it "provided the NLRB with a safe,
confidential and convenient proposal for associates to vote
on-site, which is in the best interest of all parties -- associate
convenience, vote fidelity and timeliness of vote count."
Amazon's appeal is one of a number of steps the company is
taking to challenge the election. Amazon also launched a website
called DoItWithoutDues.com. On the site, the company asks workers
why they would pay a union for benefits such as high wages and
health care that the company says it already provides.
Organizers say they are fighting for better working conditions.
They have said a union would give workers more leverage in any
disputes with the company and allow them to collectively bargain
over safety standards, training, breaks, pay and other
Workers at the warehouse in December received approval to hold
the union vote, making it the first such election since 2014 at
Amazon. Bessemer workers in November filed a notice with the NLRB
to hold a union election.
The union vote is emerging as one of a number of labor battles
for Amazon, the nation's second-largest employer with more than
800,000 employees in the U.S., the majority of whom work at
warehouse and delivery facilities. While none of its hourly U.S.
employees have union representation, it is common for the company
Last year, as Amazon struggled to meet a surge in orders due to
pandemic lockdowns and a widespread shift to online shopping, some
workers complained about health protocols and safety.
Organizing efforts gained momentum. Workers at several
warehouses have held walkouts or other protests in response to what
they said were inadequate safety practices. Amazon in October said
more than 19,000 of its workers had tested positive for the
coronavirus. Some employees have also alleged they were wrongfully
New York City last spring opened an investigation into Amazon
for their firing of an employee at its Staten Island facility who
had spoken out about worker safety. In December, California sued to
force Amazon to comply with subpoenas related to an investigation
by the state into the company's coronavirus safety protocols at its
Amazon has said it made hundreds of adjustments to make its work
environment safer at warehouses, including regularly testing
workers for Covid-19, providing temperature screenings and
implementing social distancing practices.
Write to Sebastian Herrera at Sebastian.Herrera@wsj.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
January 22, 2021 14:19 ET (19:19 GMT)
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