Workers at Amazon’s fulfillment center in Bessemer appear to have voted not to unionize after months of an organizing push and counter-push that have drawn international attention.
The unofficial vote count is 1,798 against unionizing and 738 for. There were a total of 3,215 ballots cast in the election. Approximately 5,800 ballots were sent to workers at the Bessemer fulfillment center.
The employees voted not to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, known as RWDSU, which is affiliated with the United Food and Commercial Workers, or UFCW.
Amazon made serious efforts to persuade employees to vote no. The Intercept reported that the company hired Russell Brown, a longtime anti-union consultant and president of a think tank supported by the billionaire Koch family’s network, at the rate of $3,200 per day.
A bunch of Twitter accounts purporting to be fulfillment center ambassadors raised some eyebrows by tweeting about their opposition to the unionization effort, claiming that working conditions are good (one tweeted that she realized her depression was her own fault). A similar messaging campaign by FC ambassadors happened in 2019, prompting speculation that they’re bots.
The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union in a statement Friday after votes were tallied said it would file an objection.
“Amazon has left no stone unturned in its efforts to gaslight its own employees,” said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the union, in the statement. “We won’t let Amazon’s lies, deception and illegal activities go unchallenged, which is why we are formally filing charges against all of the egregious and blatantly illegal actions taken by Amazon during the union vote.
Applebaum said that even though the National Labor Relations Board denied Amazon’s request for a dropbox on the warehouse property, “Amazon felt it was above the law and worked with the postal service anyway to install one.”
“They did this because it provided a clear ability to intimidate workers,” Applebaum said.