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Amazon union vote in Alabama to close, but results could take weeks

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The closely watched union vote at Amazon’s warehouse in Bessemer, Ala. is coming to a close this week — but a result is likely at least a week away.

Employees at the facility, who have been voting for the past month and could become the first Amazon workers in the US to be represented by a labor contract — have until Monday to cast their ballots while the process of counting the votes will begin on Tuesday at 10 a.m., according to the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which has been leading the initiative.

The National Labor Relations Board has said the tally could take up to a week and both Amazon and the union can dispute the ballots, prolonging the process.

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If some 5,800 workers cast their ballots in favor of a union contract — the number of employees the RWDSU claims supports unionization — it could open the floodgates to Amazon’s 800,000 warehouse workers here following in their footsteps, an outcome the online behemoth has been fighting tooth and nail against, including launching a web site, DoItWithoutDues.com.

There are some 6,000 employees who have received ballots in this drive.

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It’s widely expected that both sides will challenge the results based on a number of factors, including improper job classifications and ineligibility based on dates of employment. The challenges must occur within five days of the vote. 

Whatever the outcome, the initiative has contributed to strikes at Amazon facilities worldwide, including in Germany last week, and has shined a spotlight on Amazon’s workplace policies, including the rate of speed at which employees are required to work or deliver packages as well as their break times and hourly pay. A report that Amazon drivers were forced to pee in bottles to meet their quotas went viral last week, when an Amazon official denied it such reports.

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Politicians from President Biden to Marco Rubio (Sen. R-Fla) and Bernie Sanders (Sen. D-Vt) have weighed in on the election with the president warning Amazon — without mentioning the company by name — not to interfere with the process.

Even if workers vote to unionize, it could take years of bargaining to reach a first contract between Amazon and the union, according to reports.

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