Amazon Workers In New York City Vote To Unionize

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Amazon Workers In New York City Vote To Unionize
This marks the first successful organizing effort in Amazon's history. Meanwhile, workers in Bessemer, Alabama, voted 993 to 875 against unionizing.

Amazon workers in Staten Island, New York, voted to unionize on Friday, marking the first successful U.S. organizing effort in the retail giant’s history and handing an unexpected win to a nascent group that fueled the union drive.

Votes were still being tabulated but union supporters secured a wide enough margin to give the fledgling Amazon Labor Union enough support to pull off a victory. The votes that were either voided or contested by either Amazon or the ALU did not appear to be enough to sway the outcome.

More than 8,300 eligible workers cast their ballots. Amazon provides the list of eligible workers to the National Labor Relations Board, which oversees the process. Organizers say a high attrition rate may have shrunk that pool since the election was scheduled.

The victory was an uphill battle for the independent group, made up of former and current workers who lacked official backing from an established union and were out-gunned by the deep-pocketed retail giant. Despite obstacles, organizers believed their grassroots approach was more relatable to workers and could help them overcome where established unions have failed in the past.

Meanwhile, warehouse workers in Bessemer, Alabama, voted 993 to 875 against forming a union. The National Labor Relations Board, which oversees the election, said that 416 challenged votes could potentially overturn that result. A hearing to go through the challenged ballots will occur in the next few days.

The close election in Bessemer marks a sharp contrast to last year, when Amazon workers overwhelmingly rejected the union.

“This is just the beginning and we will continue to fight,” said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which is organizing the union drive in Bessemer, at a Thursday press conference. “Regardless of the final outcome, workers have shown what is possible. They have helped ignite a movement.”

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.