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Why is the Amazon Union Vote Count Taking So Long?

A look at the NLRB process to count union election votes

Kris LaGrange's picture
Apr 01, 2021

On Monday, all votes were submitted in the historic Amazon union vote at the Bessemer, Alabama warehouse. While only 6,000 people were eligible to vote, it is expected to take days or possibly weeks before a winner is known. This is largely due to the slow counting process that makes the 2020 Presidential vote count look like a breeze.

As the New York Times reported earlier in the week, vote counting doesn’t start right away. Instead, representatives from the RWDSU and Amazon spent the week checking the names of everyone who voted against the official employee roll. They are then allowed to contest a person’s eligibility to vote, setting aside that ballot until a later date. According to a report from Reuters, published before voting ended, at least 19 people who no longer work for the company received ballots and at least two of them voted. Due to high turnover at the warehouse, there will likely be more than 19 of these challenges.

Dave Jamieson, a labor reporter for Huffpost, also reported that it is likely the union will also contest ballots that were submitted by “process assistants.” These workers appear to have supervisor-ish duties, including the ability to discipline workers on their own without orders from higher up managers.

With up to 6,000 ballots having been cast it will likely take days to go through each ballot individually. If the election is close, these contested ballots could decide who wins, so individual hearings will be held on the eligibility of each person’s vote.

Once these contested ballots are removed from the vote pile, the NLRB will begin counting the votes in 1,000 ballot batches. They will do two counts to ensure accuracy. According to Slate, if there are thousands of votes to be counted, the process could take weeks. To win one side would need a simple majority of people who voted. The count is expected to start on Friday or early next week.

Lawsuits are also expected to delay a final vote total.  If the company wins, the union is likely to file charges around a host of complaints that they have raised during the process. This includes things that may have been said during captive audience meetings and Amazon’s decision to place a mailbox on the company property, which the AFL-CIO’s General Counsel told HuffPost “amounts to Amazon trying to assert control over the mechanics of the election.”

If a lawsuit is filed, it would first be heard by an administrative judge, but would likely make its way to the full National Labor Relations Board. Although the board is currently in Republican hands, Democrats will take over control of the board in August.

So, like the 2020 election, sit back, wait, and let the NLRB fairly count the ballots and ensure that every legitimate vote counts.

Below is a helpful video from Kim Kelly at More Perfect Union where she explains the process and speaks to RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum about some of the issues they may contest.

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