Amazon warehouse workers in Alabama will get another chance to unionize

Amazon warehouse workers in Alabama will get another chance to unionize
Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Workers at the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, will have another chance to unionize after a federal labor official called for a new vote Monday.

The ruling by a regional director of the National Labor Relations Board was made public Monday. It follows an earlier recommendation from an NLRB hearing officer that there was enough misconduct by Amazon during the election to justify a new vote.

The first vote, held in April, fell well short of the support the union needed to win the right to represent nearly 6,000 workers there.

“Today’s decision confirms what we were saying all along — that Amazon’s intimidation and interference prevented workers from having a fair say in whether they wanted a union in their workplace — and as the regional director has indicated, that is both unacceptable and illegal,” said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, the union seeking to represent nearly 6,000 workers at the warehouse. “Amazon workers deserve to have a voice at work, which can only come from a union.”

Amazon expressed disappointment in the decision and vowed to continue its efforts to defeat the union.

“Our employees have always had the choice of whether or not to join a union, and they overwhelmingly chose not to join the RWDSU earlier this year,” said Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel. “It’s disappointing that the NLRB has now decided that those votes shouldn’t count.

Amazon has argued that the union would make it more difficult to improve work conditions at this and other Amazon locations.

“As a company, we don’t think unions are the best answer for our employees,” said Nantel. “While we’ve made great progress in important areas like pay and safety, we know there are plenty of things that we can keep doing better, both in our fulfillment centers and in our corporate offices, and that’s our focus—to work directly with our employees to keep getting better every day.”

The effort to organize Amazon workers has become a key focus for US labor unions, with several targeting the company. The RWDSU was the first union to get enough support at an Amazon location to hold a vote.

But the effort lost badly in the April election, with 738 votes were cast for the union and 1,798 votes against. There were also 505 ballots that were challenged by one side or the other, but that was not enough to change the outcome of the vote.

— CNN Business’ Sara O’Brien contributed to this report

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