We might soon know whether workers at the Bessemer Amazon fulfillment center chose to unionize, as the National Labor Relations Board began the public counting of ballots in the election this afternoon.
Since November 2020, the eyes of America have been on Alabama as those on each side of the issue made their cases.
The vote count began on March 30 after about 5,800 ballots were sent out to workers in early February. According to the Retail, Wholesale & Department Store Union, a total of 3,215 ballots were received by the National Labor Relations Board in the election. Each side had more than a week to lodge challenges to individual ballots.
It’s unclear how many ballots were contested by the union and Amazon. The union said in a statement last night that “hundreds of challenged ballots mostly by the employer” will be addressed after the public count.
On Thursday afternoon, the portion of the count that is open to public view began. As of 4:46 p.m. CST Thursday, the unofficial vote count stood at 696 against unionizing and 300 for union. Follow us here for regular updates.
A simple majority of votes will determine whether workers there will be represented by the Retail, Wholesale & Department Store Union.
The media is able to view the count through a zoom link. There are three observers each for Amazon and the RWDSU, along with members of the NLRB staff who are conducting the vote count. Each individual ballot is displayed for observers, and “yes” or “no” is called out. When either side reaches 100 votes, the ballots are then recounted to verify the total, then counting continues.
As of 4:45 p.m., the counting took a 15 minute break, but both sides showed a willingness to let the count continue as long as the NLRB staff wanted to go.
The union election is the largest overseen by the NLRB since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The NLRB chose a mail-in election because of COVID-19 levels back in January in the Jefferson County area.