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January 11, 2022 1:30 PM, EST

NLRB Sets Amazon Union Vote in Alabama

Amazon election A Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union supporter holds a sign outside of the union headquarters in Birmingham, Ala., on March 26. (Andi Rice/Bloomberg News)

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Amazon.com Inc. employees in Bessemer, Ala., will vote by mail next month in a rerun election on whether to unionize, the National Labor Relations Board announced Jan. 11.

Ballots will be mailed out Feb. 4 and must be received back before the counting begins March 28, the agency said in an election notice.

The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union was defeated in a vote last year but appealed the results, alleging Amazon intimidated workers and pressured them to cast votes in a mailbox the company had installed in a tent on its property in view of security cameras. The company has denied the allegations.

The company handily won the previous election, which was held last April. Of the more than 3,000 ballots cast, Amazon garnered 1,798 nos, and the union won 738 yeses. While federal officials set aside 505 contested ballots — most of them disputed by Amazon, according to the RWDSU— there weren’t enough of those to change the result.

It’s by no means certain that the union will prevail in the second vote. Union membership has been a tough sell in Bessemer, where Amazon’s wages and health benefits go much further than they do in pricier cities such as New York.

The union could benefit from a settlement the company reached in December with NLRB that prohibits practices Amazon has allegedly used to make it more difficult for workers to organize. Under the deal, the company must inform past and current workers of their rights and is restricted from interfering with organizing on company property after hours. Still, Amazon is expected to campaign fiercely.

The company is facing unprecedented labor unrest. A fledgling union founded by former and current Amazon workers is trying to unionize four facilities in Staten Island. Meanwhile, the Teamsters are looking to organize facilities in Canada.

Amazon and the union didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

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