Federal labor officials have started counting the votes in a closely watched union election by Amazon . com Inc. workers in Bessemer, Ala., who are seeking to become the first company employees in the U.S. to gain union representation.
Since the voting concluded on March 29, the National Labor Relations Board has been processing ballots to ensure they are valid and allow both parties an opportunity to contest the eligibility of each one. The number of ballots cast totaled 3,215, according to the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which would represent the Bessemer workers if they vote to unionize. The union said there were hundreds of ballots challenged over voter eligibility during the processing of ballots. The labor board hasn’t yet provided a tally of votes. The labor board hasn’t yet provided a tally of votes.
The election has drawn national attention because a vote to unionize in Bessemer could fuel other unionization attempts throughout the company, which employs roughly 950,000 people in the U.S., most at its hundreds of warehouses.
Organizers have said that forming a union would allow workers to collectively bargain over issues including safety standards, training and compensation. Some employees have complained both publicly and to the company about their workload and how the company monitors them through internal tracking systems. About 6,000 people work at the Amazon facility in Bessemer.
Amazon has said its pay and benefits rank among the best available for comparable jobs—employees are paid at least $15 an hour, more than double the minimum wage in Alabama. The company says it provides a competitive compensation package, which includes retirement and healthcare benefits that many workers appreciate.