Amazon union vote fails in Alabama

The “no” was largely won in a poll to create a union in the Bessemer warehouse in Alabama, which would have been a first for the e-commerce giant in the United States. Supporters of the “yes” denounce the “illegal” actions taken by Amazon to defeat the vote.

It was a vote presented as historic , but it was the “no” camp that won. Amazon workers’ movement to create a union in an Alabama warehouse, which would have been a first for the group in the United States , ended in failure at the polls on Friday, April 9.

Of the 3,215 bulletins received from the Bessemer warehouse, 1,798 were against unionization versus 738 in favor of RWDSU, the national distribution union that employees wanted to join.

Several hundred ballots were contested or deemed invalid, but the “no” camp is already assured of obtaining a majority of the votes.

A clear victory for the e-commerce giant

The result marks a clear victory for the e-commerce giant.

“Union representation is a choice for employees, but many of them clearly preferred the opportunities of a labor market offering good wages and benefits, to the anonymous nature of a collective agreement,” responded David French of the national distribution federation, representing retail trade professionals.

Interrupted Thursday evening, the vote count, overseen by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the federal labor law agency, ended Friday morning in Birmingham, capital of Alabama, a conservative and poor state. from the southern United States.

“Amazon has spared no effort to drive its own employees mad,” reacted Stuart Appelbaum, president of RWDSU.

“We will not let Amazon get away with their lies, deception and illegal activities so cheaply,” he added. The union announced that it would file a complaint with the NLRB “against all the scandalously and blatantly illegal actions taken by Amazon during the union vote.”

The union had won a first victory last year, gathering enough signatures to organize a vote.

“Hellish cadences”

Bessemer’s movement then took on a national dimension. He has seen backing against union workers – artists, Democratic and Republican parliamentarians, and even President Joe Biden  – and Amazon, whose businesses flourished during the pandemic.

The Seattle group and the RWDSU clashed online. On the ground, Amazon has been making its case against unionization with texts, posters and weekly briefings in the warehouse for months, while unionists canvassed employees at the entrance to the warehouse. warehouse day and night.

Pro-union employees complain of hellish rates, lack of time to go to the toilet or to eat, the lack of security protections (especially against Covid-19) and insufficient wages for the work required.

For its part, Amazon defended itself by recalling that wages started at $ 15 an hour (more than double the minimum wage in Alabama) and that it provides social benefits, such as health coverage. The group ensures that its employees have the necessary breaks.

Amazon, the second largest employer in the United States with 800,000 employees, is regularly criticized on the front of social and environmental responsibilities by associations and some of its employees.

A union at Google

“We will continue to try,” Sondra Hill, a part-time warehouse worker, told AFP who was very disappointed with the result of the vote. “But I don’t think I will continue to work there for much longer.”

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