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More than 3200 Amazon workers cast ballots in historic union election

By staff

Birmingham, AL – On April 7, more than a week after union voting ended for workers at Amazon’s Bessemer Distribution Center, the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union says that 3215 votes were cast, which is 55% of the 5800 workers at the location. Up until now the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) – which oversees this type of union election – as well as the union and the employer, were engaged in a process of going through every name on the eligibility list and checking if they voted, and seeing if either the employer or the union wished to file an objection to the validity of each ballot based on eligibility of the voter.

The vote was done by mail-in ballot, which can slow down the counting process, however even with a group of 5800 people it is highly unusual for a vote to take this long to count, or more than a few hours. The union says that this is a result of several hundred challenges being filed by the employer to votes cast, which has slowed the process considerably.

Actual counting of the votes is expected to begin on Thursday, April 8 in the afternoon, or on Friday morning. While counting the ballots may only take a couple hours by itself, the counting process may be laden with more challenges to ballots by either party if one party or the other argues that a ballot has been spoiled. Ballots can be spoiled in many ways, including if a worker wrote their name on a ballot, or did not fill it out in a manner in which the intent is clear.

Depending on the numbers, we may find out a result by the end of Friday. Or we may see further delays of weeks or even months if the number of challenges proves greater than the margin by which the vote is decided, which would mean the challenges would be ‘determinative’ and could result in a delay of results being certified until after those challenges are settled by the NLRB.

Many in the U.S. labor movement see this as an important time for the movement and are watching results anxiously.

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