Historic Union Vote Underway At Alabama Amazon Fulfillment Center

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by Tyler Durden
Monday, Feb 08, 2021 - 08:40 AM

Thousands of Amazon employees in an Alabama suburb are set to begin voting in a union election this week. On Friday, the National Labor Relations Board declined Amazon's request to delay the vote.

According to NPR News, Amazon warehouse employees at the Bessemer, Alabama, Amazon Fulfillment Center could become the first group of employees under the nation's second-largest employer to unionize. 

Starting Monday, 5,800 workers at the Bessemer fulfillment center will begin receiving ballots to vote on unionization, asking if they want to join the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU). 

If the Bessemer fulfillment center joins RWDSU, it will provide workers with bargaining power to improve pay, increase training, improve safety standards, and other critical benefits. 

While Amazon has repeatedly rejected efforts to unionize in the US; many of its European fulfillment centers operate under union contracts. 

Since the beginning of the pandemic and the summer of social justice movements across the US, unionization has been a hot topic at many Amazon fulfillment centers. Employees complain about unsafe conditions, internal tracking systems and mass surveillance, and exhausting workloads. 

RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum recently told NPR that at least half of the Bessemer workforce have already signed cards indicating support for the union. He said workers reached out to him last summer about unionizing, adding that many of them complained about "grueling productivity quotas and had wanted more input in shaping the workplace, including how people get disciplined or fired." 

Separately, dozens of US House representatives wrote a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on Friday, criticizing his attempt to prevent Bessemer workers from unionizing.  

"We ask that you stop these strong-arm tactics immediately and allow your employees free to exercise their right to organize a union," the letter states.

... and it's not a surprise that Bezos said the mail-in-voting could result in fraud. The vote also follows the announcement last week the CEO will step down this summer.

More Perfect Union provides new accounts of Amazon deterring workers from voting yes to unionize.