Amazon Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN) has reportedly contested hundreds of ballots in the vote about whether to unionize its Bessemer, Ala. warehouse. Officials are set to start counting those ballots publicly this afternoon or Friday morning.
Union Drive Sees 55% Voter Turnout
According to CNBC, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union said on Wednesday that over 3,200 Amazon workers cast ballots in the union drive, leading to a turnout rate of about 55%. That turnout was higher than what the union had been expecting. Over 5,800 employees were eligible to vote.
Amazon employees had until Mar. 29 to mail in their ballots, and the count started last week in a private video conference, which the National Labor Relations Board presided over. During that conference, the union and Amazon could contest ballots for various reasons, such as an illegible signature or whether the person's job classification allows them to vote.
The public part of the vote is expected to start this afternoon or Friday morning.
Amazon Challenges Hundreds Of Ballots
The RWDSU said the two sides contested hundreds of ballots, with Amazon contesting the lion's share. If the margin of victory is less than the number of ballots that were challenged, the final count will be halted until the NLRB resolves those challenges during a hearing. Accepted ballots will be added to the total at that point.
The ballot challenges aren't the last potential barrier in the vote-counting process. The union and Amazon could challenge the results after all the votes are tallied.
Watching The Union Vote
Much of the country has been riveted to the union vote in Alabama, as it would be the first Amazon location in the U.S. to unionize if it passes. Workers who support the union have highlighted several issues with working for the online retailer, such as lack of breaks, high package quotas and other problems.
The union wants Amazon to pay warehouse employees more, give them more break time and treat them with respect. However, the company has repeatedly defended itself, saying employees don't need a union because it offers a great place to work and pays more than the minimum wage. Amazon has faced off with members of Congress and held mandatory meetings for employees to push back against attempts to organize.
Amazon is part of the Entrepreneur Index, which tracks 60 of the largest publicly traded companies managed by their founders or their founders' families. CEO Jeff Bezos has led the company since it was founded. However, he will be stepping over to the executive chairman position this year, bringing Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy to the top post at the online retailer.