Amazon will face a second Alabama union vote in February

The NLRB said Amazon interfered with the first election.

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Jon Fingas
January 11, 2022 1:55 PM
A sign at the Amazon.com, Inc. BHM1 fulfillment center is seen before sunrise on March 29, 2021 in Bessemer, Alabama. - Votes are set to be counted on March 29, 2021 on whether to create the first Amazon union in the United States, at a warehouse in Alabama, after a historic, five months-long David vs Goliath campaign. "I'm proud of the workers at Amazon for standing up and saying enough," said Joshua Brewer, the local president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. (Photo by Patrick T. FALLON / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)
A sign at the Amazon.com, Inc. BHM1 fulfillment center is seen before sunrise on March 29, 2021 in Bessemer, Alabama. - Votes are set to be counted on March 29, 2021 on whether to create the first Amazon union in the United States, at a warehouse in Alabama, after a historic, five months-long David vs Goliath campaign. "I'm proud of the workers at Amazon for standing up and saying enough," said Joshua Brewer, the local president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. (Photo by Patrick T. FALLON / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images) PATRICK T. FALLON via Getty Images

It's now clear when Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer, Alabama will vote in a mandatory second union election. As Motherboard's Lauren Kaori Gurley notes, the National Labor Relations Board has sent notice that employees at the BHM1 fulfillment center can start voting with secret mail ballots on February 4th, with the vote count beginning on March 28th. Anyone employed at the company from the first week of January 2022 onward is eligible to consider joining the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.

The NLRB ordered the new vote after determining that Amazon interfered with the first union election in early 2021. The RWDSU filed 23 objections after the 1,798 to 738 "no" vote, accusing Amazon of installing an unapproved mailbox to intimidate staff as well as handing out anti-union material like badges and signs. After an investigation, the NLRB found that Amazon had a "flagrant disregard" for the mail voting process that made a fair election "impossible."

The RWDSU wasn't completely satisfied with the notice. In a statement, the organization claimed the NLRB's decision "fails to adequately prevent" Amazon from skewing the vote. Amazon, meanwhile, repeated its comment from November in response to Engadget's inquiries. It maintained that warehouse workers "overwhelmingly" voted against joining the union, and found it "disappointing" that the NLRB rejected the election.

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As before, the stakes are high. A pro-union vote would give warehouse workers collective bargaining rights they could use to improve pay and working conditions — both frequent points of contention. Whatever the outcome, it's safe to presume the election will draw renewed scrutiny from politicians and stars who see it as a turning point for labor at the internet shopping giant.

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Amazon will face a second Alabama union vote in February