Amazon workers in Alabama are part of a landmark moment

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Amazon workers in Alabama are part of a landmark moment
<a href="https://pixabay.com/users/josemiguels/">josemiguels</a> / Pixabay

The first votes on whether Amazon Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN) workers at an Alabama warehouse will unionize will enter review starting today. However, counting the votes may not start until later this week or next after Amazon and the union ensure that they are eligible.

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Amazon vote enters its final days

CNBC reports that a U.S. National Labor Relations Board representative will start going through the ballots sent to almost 6,000 workers at Amazon's fulfillment center in Bessemer, Ala. The review is the first part of the process that will determine whether the warehouse will become the first Amazon location to unionize. It's expected to go on for days and trigger legal challenges.

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A source told CNBC that representatives might not start counting the votes until later this week or next after Amazon and the union review the ballots to ensure they are eligible. The person added that any objections or additional procedures could delay a certified result.

A landmark moment

Amazon has been pushing back against attempts by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union to become the first to unionize one of its facilities in the U.S. If the union wins, the online retailer would be open to further unionizing efforts at other locations. Amazon employs over 800,000 people in the U.S. alone.

Wilma Liebman, who served as an NLRB chair during the Obama administration, told CNBC that the vote would be "groundbreaking" if the union wins. She also pointed out that it's notoriously difficult to form unions in southern states, which have laws discouraging unionizing. She added that Amazon is "right to be worried."

Statements on the Amazon vote

The online retailer said in a statement that its "employees know the truth—starting wages of $15 or more, health care from day one, and a safe and inclusive workplace." It added that it encouraged all of its employees to vote and hopes they did.

RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum said the vote has "already been a victory in many ways," although they don't know how it will turn out. He believes the campaign has "opened the door to more organizing around the country."

President Joe Biden is among those who have commented on the Bessemer vote, although he did not mention Amazon specifically by name. He said toward the end of last month that workers have the right to unionize without being intimidated, specifically naming Alabama but not mentioning the online retailer.

Amazon is a part of the Entrepreneur Index, which tracks 60 of the largest publicly traded companies managed by their founders or their founders' families.

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