Amazon pushes for in-person unionizing vote for 'valid, fair and successful election'

Employees are seeking to be represented by Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union

Amazon is requesting that workers at an Alabama warehouse seeking to form a union cast in-person votes rather than by mail in order to have a "fair" election, despite the ongoing threat of the coronavirus.

The e-commerce giant filed a motion with the National Labor Relations Board on Thursday in hopes of delaying the election, slated to begin Feb. 8, according to paperwork obtained by FOX Business. The move is said to give NLRB more time to reconsider its earlier decision to hold the election by mail during a nearly two-month time span, USA Today reported.

"It deemed a mail-ballot-only election the “safest” approach ... without ever balancing the purported risk of virus spread against the public policy that “strongly favors” allowing employees to vote in person," the NLRB wrote in its decision.

NLRB declined to comment further.

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Amazon argued that in-person voting is the best way to verify votes from associates.

"We believe that the best approach to a valid, fair and successful election is one that is conducted manually, in-person, making it easy for associates to verify and cast their vote in close proximity to their workplace," Amazon spokeswoman Heather Knox told FOX Business.

Knox also said that Amazon "provided the NLRB with a safe, confidential and convenient proposal for associates to vote onsite, which is in the best interest of all parties – associate convenience, vote fidelity, and timeliness of vote count."

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In November, employees at the Bessemer facility filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board saying they want to hold an election on forming a union to represent the 1,500 full- and part-time workers at the fulfillment center. It does not include drivers, seasonal employees, professional employees and others.

Employees within the massive facility pack and ship "sortable packages, which are defined as packages not exceeding 25 pounds," according to the NLRB.

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The employees are seeking to be represented by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.

"The purpose of us coming together with our co-workers to form a union is to have better working conditions, better pay, and to be treated with respect and dignity on the job," a website created in support of forming a union at the Alabama facility read.

Their push for forming a union received support from Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who said their efforts would mark a turning point for "every worker in America."

Although the company said it respects their decision, Amazon said the warehouse has created thousands of full-time jobs in Bessemer since opening in March. The average pay is $15.30 per hour, including full health care, vision and dental insurance.

“We respect our employees’ right to join or not join a labor union but we don’t believe this group represents the majority of our employees’ views,” Knox said.

Regardless, the company "will continue to insist on measures for a fair election" so that "everyone" can vote, she said.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.