Amazon has been denied a request to install a video camera in the vote counting stations in Alabama as tallying begins on its landmark union vote.
The National Labour Relations Board (NLRB) has rejected Amazon’s request to install a video camera in its office in Birmingham, Alabama, to monitor the ballot boxes between counting and ensure they’re not tampered with.
It comes as around 6000 workers at Amazon’s warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, vote on whether the should join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), which would mark the first time in Amazon’s history US employees have unionised.
Voting on the landmark union drive, which is being watched closely by Amazon workers across the US, came to a close earlier this week and counting commenced on Tuesday morning.
The NLRB has not given an estimate on how long the counting will take, but it is understood a final tally could not be reached for weeks.
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“Though the mail ballot election in this matter is large, it is not, as the Employer asserts, of a ‘special nature,’” NLRB’s acting regional director Lisa Henderson said.
“The Region will conduct the ballot count within view of observers participating via virtual platform as well as in-person observers, and in accordance with Agency procedures and protocols, including those for securing ballot boxes.”
Amazon’s request speaks to the highly contentious nature of the vote, seeing the retailer launch various initiatives to try and dissuade workers from unionising.
RWDSU’s president Stuart Appelbaum added: “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, and we have exposed the lengths to which employers will go to crush their employees trying to gain a union voice. This campaign has become the prime example for why we need labor law reform in this country.”
An Amazon spokesperson said in an email: “We don’t believe the RWDSU represents the majority of our employees’ views. Our employees choose to work at Amazon because we offer some of the best jobs available everywhere we hire, and we encourage anyone to compare our total compensation package, health benefits, and workplace environment to any other company with similar jobs.”