The vote to determine whether Amazon workers in Birmingham, Alabama will form the first union at Amazon is set to begin, which is estimated to affect over 6,000 Amazon employees at the Bessemer warehouse and have broader implications nationwide. The results, however, might be delayed due to potential and likely legal challenges from whoever ends up losing the vote.
Initially, the count was slated to begin publicly this last week, but due to unforeseen challenges that don’t yet seem quite clear, the vote has been pushed back several times. The National Labor Relations Board has stated that the public portion of the vote has been difficult to begin, stating that beginning the public portion has been a “moving target” and largely reliant on how soon all the ballots and challenges can be processed.
The workers at the Bessemer warehouse, which originally had opened only less than a year ago, were horrified by their current working conditions, describing them as “grueling” and publicly voiced unease and concern over the lack of break times to use the restroom or eat lunch, for example. The workers have said that they are monitored throughout the workday and can be fired if they fall behind on packing boxes.
The sales and profits for Amazon have been soaring high during the coronavirus pandemic and the Jeff Bezos’ net worth has increased to over $200 billion throughout the last year. Amazon has expanded its warehouse workforce during the pandemic, and the new employees have demanded raises, protested lack of protections from COVID-19, and asked for more transparency around coronavirus infections at its facilities.
“Our employees know the truth — starting wages of $15 or more, health care from day one, and a safe and inclusive workplace,” a spokesperson for the tech giant recently stated to the press.
When all the ballots are tallied, both sides will be allowed to raise objections regarding any conduct concerns during the election. The NLRB will investigate any claims made and set a hearing date if necessary, given there is enough evidence to support the case. The results could be set aside entirely if it is found that conduct by the employer created an atmosphere of confusion or fear of reprisals.