Amazon union rerun election in Alabama will be determined by challenged ballots

The vote was too close for anyone to declare an outright victory.

A banner reading "VOTE" is seen hanging at an Amazon facility on the first day of the unionization vote in Bessemer, Alabama, U.S., February 4, 2022. REUTERS/Dustin Chambers (Dustin Chambers / reuters)

The initial results of a second union election at Amazon's BHM1 warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama have finally come through. Workers have voted against unionization in a closely contested 993-875 vote (with 59 voided votes) out of 6,153 workers eligible to cast a ballot. Turnout appears to have been considerably lower this time around, as more than 3,000 employees cast ballots in the early 2021 vote. However, 416 votes have been challenged — more than enough to change the outcome — so the definitive result might not be available for some time.

While it's not currently known how many of the challenges came from either party, in a post-tally press conference, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union president Stewart Applebaum said "each side challenged over 100 ballots." Currently the NLRB has not yet scheduled the hearing to determine which of these ballots should be opened and counted, but expects that to take place in the coming weeks. Any additional unfair labor practices RWDSU wishes to lodge in regards to this re-run election will need to be filed within the next five business day.

The tally brings BHM1 to the possible end of a long and messy saga. Bessemer workers voted against unionization in early 2021, but the National Labor Relations Board ruled that Amazon violated labor laws by allegedly interfering with the vote. RWDSU accused Amazon of repeatedly trying to intimidate workers through measures like an unauthorized ballot box and anti-union campaign material. While Amazon disputed the claims, the NLRB ultimately ordered a second vote.

The rerun election didn't go smoothly, either. The RWDSU has maintained that Amazon interfered with the second vote by removing pro-union posters, forcing attendance of anti-union meetings and limiting time spent on company grounds to discourage organization. Before the vote, the RWDSU also accused Amazon of illegal retaliation against worker Isaiah Thomas' pro-union efforts. The company has again argued that its actions are legal.

BHM1 was the first major Amazon facility in the US to hold a union vote, but it's no longer the only one. One Staten Island warehouse, JFK8, is already voting on possible unionization, and early vote totals show the grassroots Amazon Labor Union ahead by several hundred votes. Another facility in Staten Island is scheduled to hold its own unionization vote starting in late April. Simply put, there's a growing desire for workers to have a say in their conditions at at Amazon's — whether those efforts succeed, however, remains to be seen.

Additional reporting by Avery Ellis. Updated with information from RWDSU and NLRB