Amazon has won a historic warehouse union election. But the battle is not over.

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A majority of employees at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama have voted towards unionizing with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) in the first election of its dimension at an Amazon warehouse in the United States. But the union concerned already mentioned earlier than the counting was completed that it could seemingly problem the outcomes.

“Our system is broken, Amazon took full advantage of that, and we will be calling on the labor board to hold Amazon accountable for its illegal and egregious behavior during the campaign,” RWDSU president Stuart Appelbaum mentioned in a assertion to Recode on Thursday night.

RWDSU spokesperson Chelsea Connor mentioned a part of the alleged habits includes Amazon’s placement of a USPS mailbox on the grounds of the Bessemer, Alabama, warehouse at the middle of the vote. Some employees have mentioned they have been intimidated by the set up of the mailbox, in addition to the messages from Amazon to make use of it, and consider that the firm needed to observe who voted. The Washington Post reported earlier on Thursday that Amazon officers pressed the USPS to put in the mailbox, after the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) denied the firm’s request to position a poll drop field on the property.

Amazon spokesperson Heather Knox beforehand informed the Post that “the RWDSU … pushed for a mail-only election, which the NLRB’s own data showed would reduce turnout. This mailbox — which only the USPS had access to — was a simple, secure, and completely optional way to make it easy for employees to vote, no more and no less.”

The votes towards unionizing totaled 1,798, whereas 738 employees voted to unionize. Another 505 ballots have been challenged by both Amazon or the union, however the margin of victory signifies that the firm would nonetheless win even when all of the challenged ballots went the union’s manner.

“It’s easy to predict the union will say that Amazon won this election because we intimidated employees, but that’s not true,” Amazon mentioned in a weblog put up. “Our employees heard far more anti-Amazon messages from the union, policymakers, and media outlets than they heard from us. And Amazon didn’t win—our employees made the choice to vote against joining a union.”

Are you a present or former Amazon worker and have ideas on this subject? Please e-mail Jason Del Rey at jason@recode.internet or jasondelrey@protonmail.com. His cellphone quantity and Signal quantity can be found upon request by e-mail.

Still, the outcomes don’t imply the battle over unionizing this warehouse is over. The union mentioned on Friday morning that it could file “Unfair Labor Practice charges (ULPs) with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) charging that Amazon interfered with the right of its Bessemer, Alabama, employees to vote in a free and fair election.” Beyond the mailbox situation, the union referred to as out Amazon’s messaging that discouraged employees from unionizing due to union dues. In Alabama, although, a union can’t power employees to pay dues.

While union organizers consider simply attending to a vote of this dimension at Amazon is a victory in its personal proper — Applebaum, the union president, mentioned as a lot on Thursday night, calling the vote “an important moment for working people” — a loss will nonetheless undoubtedly sting. The pandemic uncovered wealth and race inequalities in the US that labor activists used as catalysts for his or her drive in Bessemer, the place organizers say at the very least 80 % of Amazon staff are Black. If there have been a excellent storm to take Amazon on and win, this may need been it.

The RWDSU had already hinted at the grounds for an attraction to the NLRB in latest months, pointing to the mailbox not too long ago put in on the warehouse grounds, in addition to Amazon’s message to employees encouraging them to make use of the mailbox for his or her ballots.

“I can’t imagine a situation where the workers vote against the union and there’s not a challenge based on that mailbox,” Rebecca Givan, a labor professor at Rutgers University who has adopted the Bessemer union drive carefully, informed Recode earlier than the vote counting started.

If the NLRB guidelines in favor of the union in its problem, the board might name for a revote.

Before the vote, labor consultants additionally anticipated that Amazon would seemingly problem the equity of the election if it misplaced. Amazon pushed exhausting for the election to be performed in particular person, slightly than by way of mail-in voting, however misplaced that battle. Lawyers for the firm mentioned it needed as many staff as doable to vote, and argued that NLRB statistics present that mail-in union voting reduces turnout. The firm additionally later misplaced a request to put in cameras in the NLRB room the place votes will likely be tallied, to observe the poll containers throughout off hours. (Representatives for each Amazon and the union, in addition to members of the media, watched the vote counting remotely by way of Zoom on Thursday and Friday.)

Pro-union Amazon employees have been pushing for a seat at the desk with administration to get extra of a say over the demanding tempo of labor required by the firm, in addition to the job safety, or lack thereof, that comes with Amazon warehouse employment. These employees have mentioned they face fixed monitoring and surveillance that may be demanding and dehumanizing, in addition to what they consider are inadequate break occasions for the dimension of the facility, inconsistent timing of breaks throughout a given shift, and a termination course of that may seem one-sided.

While union representatives say union warehouse pay in Alabama averages $18 to $21 an hour in comparison with an hourly beginning wage of $15.30 at Amazon’s Bessemer facility, the subject of pay and advantages isn’t at the high of the record of considerations for a lot of pro-union employees inside Amazon. The firm has lengthy mentioned that it didn’t consider the union represented the views of the majority of its employees in Bessemer.

Still, the Bessemer drive would possibly result in extra union pushes elsewhere, whether or not with the RWDSU or different organizations.

Update, April 9, 2020, 1:28 pm ET: This article has been up to date to incorporate Amazon’s touch upon the election outcomes.

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