Workers at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama are going to get a second shot at unionizing after a National Labor Relations Board official called for a revote after finding that the e-commerce giant improperly interfered in the first election.
NLRB spokeswoman Kayla Blado confirmed the agency called for a new vote, but did not immediately provide a copy of the ruling or details about when the vote would happen. The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which is working to unionize the staff in Bessemer, said the agency has set the new election for next spring.
“Today’s decision confirms what we were saying all along — that Amazon’s intimidation and interference prevented workers from having a fair say in whether they wanted a union in their workplace — and as the Regional Director has indicated, that is both unacceptable and illegal,” union president Stuart Appelbaum said in a statement. “Amazon workers deserve to have a voice at work, which can only come from a union.”
Amazon didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The do-over will bring the high-profile campaign back to the warehouse that opened in March 2020 as the RWDSU works to crack the United States’ second-largest private employer.
The new election promises to bring the same sort of high-profile campaign to Bessemer that came to the Birmingham suburb earlier this year. During the nearly two-month mail-in balloting that ended in March, the union drew support from leaders at the AFL-CIO as well as liberal politicians nationally, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate and voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams.
Even with that support, the union decisively lost the election, with workers rejecting joining the RWDSU by more than a 2-to-1 margin. The rapid turnover at Amazon warehouses, where workers often stay for just a few weeks or months, could change the outcome.
The RWDSU has maintained a presence in Bessemer even after the lopsided loss last spring. Union leadership has pointed to the lack of early campaigning as a key reason for its defeat, and has worked to build a foundation for the upcoming campaign.
But Amazon remains staunchly opposed to unionization at its warehouses. Even though many of the company’s European warehouses are organized, the company has faced only one other union vote in the United States. In 2014, a small group of equipment maintenance and repair technicians at its warehouse in Middletown, Delaware, ultimately voted against forming a union, following a drive led by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.
The revote decision comes nearly four months after a NLRB hearing officer, Kerstin Meyers, recommended it. Meyers, whose filing guided the final ruling, found that Amazon’s efforts to place an unmarked U.S. Postal Service mailbox in front of the warehouse just after voting started could have potentially influenced workers by giving the impression that the company had a role in collecting and counting ballots.
Meyers also found that Amazon’s pressuring employees to display anti-union paraphernalia the company handed out was also improper because it “could reasonably cause an employee to perceive that the Employer was trying to discern their support for, or against, the Union.”