A majority of Amazon employees at a distribution centre in Alabama have voted against the establishment of a trade union. The workers’ union accuses the e-commerce giant of intimidation and anti-union propaganda.
During the campaign, both parties deployed considerable resources: Amazon spared no expense to convince employees that a trade union would cost them a lot of money. Jeff Bezos’ company even launched a dedicated website in order to convince employees. The union, for its part, received the support of various celebrities and Democratic politicians. Actor Danny Glover and Bernie Sanders, among others, made their appearance in Bessemer.
Tempers also ran high during the counting of the votes: both parties wanted to check for irregularities, so the procedure took more than a week. Around 500 votes were contested, but that number is too low to have an impact on the result.
Obviously, Amazon is very content with the result. The unions, however, refuse to accept defeat: union leader Stuart Appelbaum claimed that Amazon deliberately created an atmosphere of confusion, coercion and fear that stood in the way of the staff’s free choice.
The vote in Bessemer, where nearly 6,000 employees work, quickly gained international attention as the e-commerce giant, the second largest employer in the United States, has always fiercely resisted the arrival of the unions. Trade unions are active in the company’s European branches.