Amazon workers vote against forming a union at Alabama warehouse

Only 738 voted in favor of being represented by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union,

Amazon workers at a warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, voted against unionizing Friday, effectively squashing the biggest union push in the company's 26-year history. 

Of the approximately 3,041 employees who mailed in ballots to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), only 738 voted in favor of being represented by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, the labor board said Friday after the final count. 

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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. High-profile elected officials including President Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders had publically applauded the effort. 

In Friday's official count, the labor board said 76 votes were void and 505 were contested by either Amazon or the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which led the organizing efforts in Bessemer. 

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However, the labor board said in a Friday release that the challenges are not "sufficient in number to affect the results of the election." 

Despite this, the union said it would file an objection with the labor board charging the company with illegally interfering with the union vote. 

It will seek a hearing with the labor board to determine if the results "should be set aside because conduct by the employer created an atmosphere of confusion, coercion and/or fear of reprisals." The union accused Amazon of spreading disinformation about the unionization effort at meetings that workers were required to attend.

"We won’t let Amazon’s lies, deception and illegal activities go unchallenged," the union tweeted immediately after the labor board finalized the tally.

Meanwhile, Amazon issued a statement saying that there were "far more anti-Amazon messages." 

"Our employees heard far more anti-Amazon messages from the union, policymakers, and media outlets than they heard from us," the company said in a statement Friday. "And Amazon didn’t win — our employees made the choice to vote against joining a union."

The voting process 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

However, union organizers stood outside the warehouse gates trying to talk to people driving in and out of work. It also had volunteers call all of the nearly 6,000 workers, promising a union will lead to better working conditions, better pay and more respect. 

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."  

Now that the election is over, Amazon said "there’s an opportunity to move from talk to action across the country" in terms of approving wages and benefits for millions of Americans. 

"There are 40 million Americans who make less than the starting wage at Amazon, and many more who don’t get health care through their employers, and we think that should be fixed," the company said. 

Amazon says it welcomes any opportunity to meet with policymakers to work on passing laws that ensure "all workers in the U.S. are guaranteed at least $15 an hour, health care from day one, and other strong benefits."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.