Amazon's Alabama union vote: US labor board reviews objections

Did Amazon engaged 'in objectionable conduct'? A labor board will decide

The U.S. labor board on Friday began to review a union's objections to the results of Amazon's warehouse outcome in Alabama. 

The Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), which failed to organize workers at the Bessemer facility last month, filed objections with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) after claiming that Amazon illegally interfered with the process. 

After the multiday hearing, a hearing officer will review the RWDSU's evidence and draft a decision as to whether Amazon "engaged in objectionable conduct." If that's the case, the labor board can order a new election, although Amazon would have the grounds to appeal the decision. 

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There is no set deadline for when a decision needs to be made but this process can take weeks, according to the labor board. 

However, Amazon says the union is "misrepresenting the facts." 

"Despite heavy campaigning from union officials, policymakers, and even some media outlets, our employees overwhelmingly rejected the union’s representation," Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel told FOX Business in a statement. "Rather than accepting that choice, the union seems determined to continue misrepresenting the facts in order to drive its own agenda." 

The e-commerce behemoth is looking forward to "presenting the facts of this case," Nantel added. 

Of the approximately 3,041 employees who cast ballots, only 738 voted in favor of being represented by the RWDSU, the labor board said April 9 after the final count.

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Meanwhile, about 1,798 warehouse workers voted against becoming unionized even after momentum had been building across the country ever since workers in Bessemer approached the RWDSU last summer.  

RWDSU immediately contested the results.

"We won’t rest until workers’ voices are heard fairly under the law--and when they are, we believe they will be victorious," RWDSU tweeted immediately following the results.  

The retail union said Amazon threatened workers with layoffs and even the closing of the warehouse if they unionized. It also said Amazon fired a pro-union employee but declined to name the person.

Many of the other allegations revolve around a mailbox that Amazon installed in the parking lot of the warehouse. RWDSU claimed that the mailbox created the false appearance that Amazon was conducting the election, intimidating workers into voting against the union. Security cameras in the parking lot could have recorded workers going to the mailbox, giving the impression that workers were being watched by the company and that their votes weren’t private, according to the retail union. 

AMAZON WORKERS VOTE AGAINST FORMING A UNION AT ALABAMA WAREHOUSE

However, Amazon spokeswoman Heather Knox previously said the company did not threaten layoffs and she couldn’t verify if an employee was fired without a name. She also said the mailbox was installed to make it easier for employees to vote and only the U.S. Postal Service had access to it.

"Rather than accepting these employees’ choice, the union seems determined to continue misrepresenting the facts in order to drive its own agenda," Knox said in a statement. "We look forward to the next steps in the legal process."

The voting process, which kicked off in February, was long and involved aggressive campaigning on both sides, from the country’s second-largest employer and a warehouse filled with nearly 6,000 workers in a state where laws don’t favor unions.

Workers were flooded with messages from Amazon and the union. Amazon hung anti-union signs throughout the warehouse, including inside bathroom stalls. It held mandatory meetings to convince workers why the union was a bad idea and also argued that it already offered more than twice the minimum wage in Alabama plus benefits without paying union dues. 

WHAT AMAZON’S ALABAMA UNION VOTE MEANS FOR THE COMPANY AND WORKERS

Following the results, Amazon acknowledged that it is not a perfect company but said that it works hard to listen to employees, "take their feedback, make continuous improvements" while investing in greater pay and benefits "in a safe and inclusive workplace."  

The Associated Press contributed to this report.