The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union tried and failed recently to organize a group of workers at an Amazon fulfillment center in Bessemer, Alabama. The union’s purpose was to trigger a vote on the question of whether these Amazon workers should be unionized. In effect, then, the RWDSU recently ran a campaign to try and bring Amazon’s warehouse workers into its membership ranks.
As mentioned, however, the effort fails. The unionization vote, which was conducted by mail, came back with a result of 738 in favor and 1,798 opposed. Half of the workers in the warehouse in Bessemer did not vote at all.
In the wake of this failure, however, the RWDSU is alleging shenanigans. The union claims that Amazon used intimidation to get its workers to vote against unionization.
It therefore plans to file a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board and hopes thereby to nullify and redo the election.
What Happens Next on the Amazon Unionization Question?
During a press conference on Friday, April 9, which was held shortly after the unionization vote results came in, President of the RWDSU Stuart Appelbaum said, “People should not presume that the results of this vote are in any way a validation of Amazon’s working conditions and the way it treats its employees. Quite the contrary: The results demonstrate the powerful impact of employer intimidation and interference.”
In its defense, Amazon said that it regularly posts posters on bathroom workplace walls in order to inform workers of various things.
Also, the program in which the company offered $1,000 to any unhappy worker in exchange for quitting his job has been in existence at Amazon since 2014. It was not something that was invented specifically to bust up the union effort.
Critics of private-sector unionization say that, thanks to global economic competition, such things have become excessively costly. Thus, private-sector workers who unionize will likely just see their jobs disappear and go overseas to foreign and non-unionized workers. This a major incentive against unionization and may be what ultimately tipped the scales against the unionization vote in Alabama.
“It’s easy to predict that the union will say that the union will say that Amazon won this election because we intimidate employees, but that’s not true,” said the company in a statement.
It also added that ultimately “Amazon didn’t win — our employees made the choice to vote against joining a union.”
The RWDSU, however, full plans to pursue its complaint to the NLRB and fight the election result.