Nearly 6,000 Amazon warehouse workers in Alabama will vote next month on forming the first union in the company's history

  • About 6,000 Amazon workers in Alabama will vote on forming a union, which would be the e-commerce giant's first union in its history, according to a petition filed.
  • Workers will receive their ballots on February 8 to vote in the mail-in election over the wishes of Amazon, which was pushing for an in-person election.
  • Amazon has been staunchly opposed to its workers organizing a union, with the company even hiring detectives with the Pinkerton spy agency to monitor efforts.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

About 6,000 Amazon warehouse workers in Alabama will vote on forming the first union in the e-commerce giant's history, according to a new petition filed with the National Labor Relations Board.

The petition, filed by the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union, is asking to represent the approximately 6,000 employees who work at Amazon's facility in Bessemer, Alabama. Workers, whether they wish to be represented by the union or not, will receive their ballots on February 8. Voters must return their ballots by March 29. Ballot counting will be held on a video conferencing platform and will begin on March 30.

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Eligibility extends to all sorts of positions, such as lead fulfillment associate and temporary warehouse associates, but excludes all truck drivers, professional employees, and engineers, as well as others. Anyone who has worked an average of at least four hours a week in the past 13 weeks is eligible to vote.

According to the petition, the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union requested in November to represent about 1,500 employees until Amazon asked for that pool to expand and cover 6,000 employees.

In a statement to Insider, Amazon spokesperson Heather Knox said the company works "hard to support our teams and more than 90% of associates at our Bessemer site say they would recommend Amazon as a good place to work to their friends. We don't believe the RDWSU 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."

Representatives for the BAmazon Union did not immediately respond to Insider's requests for comment. 

The employees will vote via mail, which Amazon fought against, pushing instead for an in-person vote held in a parking lot adjacent to the facility, the petition noted. Amazon also wanted to use the company's Distance Assistant and other company-owned equipment to conduct the election, which the petitioner said could cause a conflict of interest.

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The petition signals the start of a large labor battle. As the Washington Post notes, union voting usually involves dozens or hundreds of workers — this involves nearly 6,000.

Amazon has historically been a staunch opponent of its workers unionizing. The firm listed, but quickly removed, a job opening in 2020 for an analyst that would monitor employee's efforts to organize.

A Motherboard report from September found that Amazon had been using a tool to monitor dozens of private and public social media groups to find drivers that were organizing strikes or protests. And in November, reports surfaced that Amazon had hired detectives with the infamous Pinkerton spy agency to monitor European workers' labor union organizing efforts.

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