Monday was the last day for ballots to be received from workers at Amazon’s fulfillment center in Bessemer. What hangs in the balance is a monumental decision by those workers on whether to join a union, the results of which could send ripples through the massive company’s other centers.
If the majority of the Bessemer workers decide to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, it would be the first union formed in a U.S. Amazon facility.
The National Labor Relations Board is to begin counting those ballots Tuesday, but the final outcome won’t likely be known for days — or even weeks. Either side could contest ballots during portions of the counting process, calling into question whether the person could legitimately vote in the election or if they signed the ballot correctly.
Even after the count, Amazon or the union could contest the results, according to the NLRB, which could delay things much longer.
“Any party may file objections and an offer of proof in support of its objections with the appropriate Regional Director within 7 days of the vote count,” the NLRB’s guidemap to elections states. If one side contests, it could take weeks before we learn the outcome.
Some workers have said the pace of the job, inadequate pay and workplace safety concerns make joining a union appealing. The company has pushed back, touting the $15.30 an hour minimum wage, health care and retirement benefits.
The election hasn’t been without controversies. Union supporters have decried the placement of a USPS mailbox outside the Bessemer facility for dropping off ballots.
Joshua Brewer, a lead organizer for the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, told the Alabama Politics This Week podcast that the NLRB forbid Amazon from having the mailbox placed there.
“Some of the desperately illegal things that Amazon has done tells me they know the popularity of this,” Brewer said. “It’s funny. Because if you look at what they’ve done, it’s almost like they knew that the longer this went on and the more the employees were educated on what a union is and what it does, the worse it would be for them. There was a big push by them to get employees to vote early. That mailbox was installed on the second day of voting.”