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NLRB denies Amazon’s appeal on Bessemer union vote

Ballots are to be mailed to workers in the Bessemer plant on Monday. Votes are to be tallied by March 30.

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The National Labor Relations Board on Friday denied Amazon’s pleas to postpone a vote by workers in the company’s Bessemer facility on whether to unionize. 

“The Employer’s Request for Review of the Acting Regional Director’s Decision and Direction of Election is denied as it raises no substantial issues warranting review. The Employer’s Motion to Stay the Election Pending Review is also denied as moot,” wrote the board in its Monday decision.

Amazon on Jan. 21 appealedJan. 15 ruling by a National Labor Relations Board regional director who decided that the approximately 5,800 Bessemer workers could vote by mail beginning Feb. 8 to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. Amazon opposes mail-in voting. Attorneys representing Amazon on Jan. 21 filed a motion to stay the election proceedings until the company’s appeal, filed that same day, could be adjudicated. The company’s attorneys argue that the regional director should have looked at Amazon’s own internal data on infection rates in the facility rather than the wider county data and that other assertions in the ruling were flawed. The board’s decision Monday means that ballots will be sent to workers’ homes on Monday. Votes are to be tallied by March 30.

“Once again Amazon workers have won another fight in their effort to win a union voice,” said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which is conducting the union drive in Bessemer. “Amazon’s blatant disregard for the health and safety of its own workforce was demonstrated yet again by its insistence for an in-person election in the middle of the pandemic. Today’s decision proves that it’s long past time that Amazon start respecting its own employees; and allow them to cast their votes without intimidation and interference.”

Amazon spokesman Max Gleber in a statement to APR on Friday said the company’s stance against mail-in ballots is due to Amazon’s desire to have as many workers vote as possible. 

“Our goal is for as many of our employees as possible to vote and we’re disappointed by the decision by the NLRB not to provide the most fair and effective format to achieve maximum employee participation,” Gleber said. “Even the National Labor Relations Board recognizes that the employee participation rate for its own elections conducted with mail ballots is 20-30% lower than the participation rate for in-person voting.”

 “Amazon proposed a safe on-site election process validated by COVID-19 experts that would have empowered our associates to vote on their way to, during and from their already scheduled shifts. We will continue to insist on measures for a fair election that allows for a majority of our employee voices to be heard,” Gleber continued. 

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Written By

Eddie Burkhalter is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or reach him via Twitter.

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