The numbers are not yet official, but the results are unclear: a majority of employees at Amazon’s processing center in Bessemer, central Alabama, voted against forming a union. Of the 3,215 voters, at least 1,700 voted, or more than the majority, condemned the decades-long publicity and strongest trade union attack in the United States. Bessemer employees voted by post until the end of March to decide whether they wanted to represent the Union of Retail, Wholesale and Departmental Stores (RWDSU).
A win (800,000 employees) for Amazon, the second largest employer in the United States, behind the mass distribution Walmart. The e-commerce company, which has grown in strength and dominance with the Covit-19 health crisis, and the fortunes of its CEO Jeff Bezos, meanwhile, seem to have succeeded again in keeping labor organizations in the Gulf. From its American warehouses, which were more than a quarter of a century old. The last attempt in this direction, in 2014 at the Delaware site, failed. Amazon’s revenue, which has been hard to explode to meet the demand of restricted customers, has risen nearly 40% since 2019 to $ 386 billion (approximately 323 billion euros), with a profit of nearly $ 22 billion ($ 11.6 billion in 2019).
“Fear of retaliation”
The final count of the election has not yet been announced and less than 500 ballots have not been contested (300 by Amazon, 200 by trade unionists). But the RWDSU already wants to take the election to the National Labor Relations Board, the federal body responsible for conducting union elections and investigating illegal practices in the work world. “Decide whether the results of this vote should be rejected, because the attitude of the employer created a situation of confusion, coercion and fear of revenge, thus interfering with the freedom to choose employees.”
Amazon has in recent months stepped up efforts to encourage its employees to form a union in the warehouse. Mandatory (and legal) meetings where Amazon representatives denigrated the unions, claiming they endangered their jobs; SMS and emails urge people to vote “no”; Posters criticizing the union arrears have been pasted in the warehouse toilets …
“There has been a lot of noise in recent months. The company wrote in a blog post Friday. Less than 16% of BHM1 employees [l’entrepôt de Bessemer, ndlr] Voted to unite with RWDSU ”, Amazon says it gives results on the total number of Bessemer employees, but not on the number of voters (“yes” represents almost 22% of the vote, “no” almost 53%). “It’s easy to predict that the union will claim that Amazon won this election because we bullied employees, but that is not true, The online trading company responds. Our employees have heard more anti-Amazon news than we have heard from the union, politicians and the media. Amazon did not succeed: our employees chose not to join a union. ”
“Our system is broken”
The progressive American left, led by Vermont senator and budget committee leader Bernie Sanders, has been condemned in recent months “Non-stop anti-union campaign” Hosted by Amazon in Bessemer. In a video posted on Twitter in late February, US President Joe Biden defended the rights “Alabama workers” Unite, and condemn the climate “Intimidation, coercion, threats and anti-union campaign”, Especially without quoting Amazon.
“Our system is broken and Amazon is making full use of it”, RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum expressed regret in a statement on Thursday, calling for the company’s approach during the campaign.“Illegal and Naked”. However, union representatives said they had received “Hundreds of requests” Other Amazon employees across the country were impressed by Bessemer’s election.