Amazon union vote enters final stretch in watershed moment for U.S. labour

By Mike Spector and Jeffrey Dastin (Reuters) - The National Labor Relations Board has begun reviewing ballots from Amazon.com Inc's workers in Alabama, who have voted on whether to form a union, with momentum for future labour organizing at America's second-largest private employer hanging in the balance. Agents from the labour board began sifting through ballots sent to more than 5,800 workers at Amazon's Bessemer, Alabama-based warehouse at 10 a.m

Reuters March 31, 2021 03:05:14 IST
Amazon union vote enters final stretch in watershed moment for U.S. labour

Amazon union vote enters final stretch in watershed moment for US labour

By Mike Spector and Jeffrey Dastin

(Reuters) - The National Labor Relations Board has begun reviewing ballots from Amazon.com Inc's workers in Alabama, who have voted on whether to form a union, with momentum for future labour organizing at America's second-largest private employer hanging in the balance.

Agents from the labour board began sifting through ballots sent to more than 5,800 workers at Amazon's Bessemer, Alabama-based warehouse at 10 a.m. CT (1500 GMT) on Tuesday, as part of a prolonged process expected to last days and spark legal challenges.

Tallying votes might not begin until later this week or next, after both Amazon and the union check the eligibility of ballots cast, said a person familiar with the process. Subsequent procedures and objections could further forestall a certified result, the person said.

Amazon has aggressively discouraged attempts by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) to become the first ever to organize one of the online retail giant's facilities in the United States.

A union victory would leave Amazon, second only to Walmart Inc with more than 800,000 employees nationwide, vulnerable to additional organizing efforts and represent a watershed moment for the U.S. labour movement, said Wilma Liebman, a former NLRB chair during the Obama administration.

"If the union manages to do this, this is really groundbreaking," Liebman said, noting the difficulty of forming unions in southern states, which have laws that discourage workplace organizing. "Amazon is right to be worried."

In a statement, Amazon said, "Our employees know the truth—starting wages of $15 or more, health care from day one, and a safe and inclusive workplace. We encouraged all of our employees to vote and hope they did so."

RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum said: "This campaign has already been a victory in many ways. Even though we don't know how the vote will turn out, we believe we have opened the door to more organizing around the country."

The union drive has drawn significant attention from elected officials in Washington. U.S. President Joe Biden at the end of February defended workers' rights to form unions free from intimidation and pointed to voting in Alabama while not specifically mentioning Amazon.

A congressional delegation visited Bessemer earlier in March and Senator Bernie Sanders, a Vermont Democrat, descended on the area Friday to hold a rally with workers and support the organizing push.

Amazon has mounted its own campaign, sending text messages urging current and also former workers to vote against forming a union and telling them that they might sacrifice certain benefits if the push succeeds, a notion the union has disputed.

A vote-count battle between Amazon and the union may ensue over the validity of former employees' ballots, Reuters previously reported.

Dave Clark, chief executive of Amazon's consumer division, last week railed against Sanders on Twitter ahead of the visit, questioning the senator's progressive bona fides while juxtaposing the e-commerce company's $15 starting wage with a figure of $11.75 in Vermont.

"So if you want to hear about $15 an hour and health care, Senator Sanders will be speaking downtown. But if you would like to make at least $15 an hour and have good health care, Amazon is hiring," Clark tweeted.

Sanders, responding on Twitter, questioned why so much money has been spent to discourage union organizing for better pay, conditions and benefits.

(Reporting by Mike Spector in New York and Jeffrey Dastin in San Francisco; Additional reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

China's Ximalaya, Qiniu file for U.S. IPOs
News & Analysis

China's Ximalaya, Qiniu file for U.S. IPOs

(Reuters) -Ximalaya, backed by China's Tencent Holdings, filed for an initial public offering (IPO) in the United States on Friday, cashing in on growing demand as more people tune in to podcasts while staying at home during the pandemic. China's Qiniu Ltd, a cloud-based platform-as-a-service provider backed by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, also filed paperwork for a U.S. IPO

Donerail pushes gaming headset maker Turtle Beach to explore a sale - sources
News & Analysis

Donerail pushes gaming headset maker Turtle Beach to explore a sale - sources

By Greg Roumeliotis (Reuters) - Donerail Group, an investment firm led by former activist hedge fund Starboard Value LP executive Will Wyatt, has amassed a stake in Turtle Beach Corp and is pushing the maker of gaming headsets to explore a sale, people familiar with the matter said on Friday. The move represents a bet that Turtle Beach could attract acquisition interest from peers such as Corsair Gaming Inc and GN Store Nord A/S, as the video game market continues to benefit from people looking for entertainment options at home during the COVID-19 pandemic

Analysis: New meme stocks swing as shorts and retail investors face off again
Business

Analysis: New meme stocks swing as shorts and retail investors face off again

By John McCrank, Saqib Iqbal Ahmed and Lawrence Delevingne NEW YORK (Reuters) - Recent volatility in a handful of so-called meme stocks is putting the spotlight back on the tussle between individual investors and short sellers, months after a wild ride in GameStop captivated Wall Street’s attention. Stocks that have notched big swings this month include laser-manufacturer MicroVision Inc, a favorite on Reddit’s popular WallStreetBets forum, whose shares have risen as much as 170% since April 20 before tumbling in recent days