- Some 6,000 Amazon workers in Alabama will vote to create a union that would be the first e-commerce giant’s union in its history, according to a petition.
- Workers will receive their ballots on February 8 to vote in the election by mail at the request of Amazon, which insisted on a personal election.
- Amazon strongly opposes its workers to form a union, with the company even hiring detectives at the Pinkerton spy agency to monitor the effort.
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About 6,000 employees in Amazon’s Alabama warehouse will vote to form the first union in the e-commerce giant̵
The petition, filed by the Union of Retail, Wholesale and Department Stores, seeks to represent approximately 6,000 employees working at Amazon’s Besemer, Alabama site. Workers, whether they want to be represented by the union or not, will receive their ballots on February 8th. Voters must return their ballots by March 29. The counting of ballots will take place on a video conferencing platform and will begin on March 30.
Read more: More than 600 employees in Amazon’s warehouse at 148 facilities could receive COVID-19, but the total number is difficult to determine because Amazon has not notified its warehouse staff of all cases, say many employees.
Eligibility extends to all positions, such as lead executives and temporary warehouse assistants, but excludes all truck drivers, professionals and engineers, as well as others. Anyone who has worked an average of at least four hours a week in the last 13 weeks has the right to vote.
According to the petition, the Union of Retail, Wholesale and Department Stores requested to represent about 1,500 employees in November, while Amazon did not request that the pool be expanded to include 6,000 employees.
In a statement to Insider, Amazon spokesman Heather Knox said the company was working “hard to support our teams, and more than 90 percent of our Bessemer contributors said they would recommend Amazon as a good place to work for their friends.” We do not believe that RDWSU represents the majority of our employees’ views. Our employees choose to work at Amazon because we offer some of the best jobs available wherever we hire, and we encourage everyone to compare our overall compensation package, health benefits, and work environment with any other company with similar jobs. “
Representatives of BAmazon Union did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.
—BAmazonUnion (@BAmazonUnion) January 15, 2021
Employees will vote by mail, which Amazon is fighting against, instead insisting on a personal vote held in a parking lot next to the facility, the petition notes. Amazon also wanted to use the company’s remote assistant and other equipment owned by the company to conduct the election, which the petitioner said could cause a conflict of interest.
Read more: The leaked note shows that Amazon is warning employees to be “vigilant” about their safety, as far-right threats to blow up data centers emerge after Parler’s ban
The petition signals the beginning of a great labor battle. As the Washington Post notes, union voting typically involves dozens or hundreds of workers – that includes nearly 6,000.
Historically, Amazon has been a staunch opponent of uniting its workers. The company listed, but quickly set aside, opening a job in 2020 for an analyst who will monitor employees’ efforts to get organized.
A September motherboard report found that Amazon used a tool to monitor dozens of private and public groups on social media to find drivers who were organizing strikes or protests. And in November, there were reports that Amazon had hired detectives from the infamous Pinkerton spy agency to monitor European unions’ efforts to organize the unions.