By Catherine Thorbecke, ABC News
(BESSEMER, Ala.) — Amazon has secured an apparent victory in its efforts to quell the formation of a labor union at a warehouse in Alabama.
As of Friday morning, some 1,798 votes had been cast against unionization, compared to 738 in favor of it. The workers would need a majority of votes in order for the union, and even accounting for the challenged ballots, it appears Amazon has cinched enough “no” votes to defeat the organizing efforts.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is still tabulating the challenged ballots as of Friday morning.
The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), which workers were seeking to be represented by, said Friday that it plans to file objections to Amazon’s conduct of the election with the NLRB.
“We won’t let Amazon’s lies, deception and illegal activities go unchallenged, which is why we are formally filing charges against all of the egregious and blatantly illegal actions taken by Amazon during the union vote,” union president Stuart Appelbaum said in a statement Friday morning.
Appelbaum accused Amazon of requiring employees to attend lectures where the company demanded they oppose the union, as well as “spreading misinformation” online and other alleged union-busting tactics.
“We demand a comprehensive investigation over Amazon’s behavior in corrupting this election,” he added.
Amazon did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment on the RWDSU’s allegations Friday.
The organizing efforts at the Bessemer Amazon facility drew the attention of lawmakers and even President Joe Biden. It would have marked the first time Amazon workers in the U.S. formed a labor union if the bid had been successful.
A total of 3,215 workers participated in the landmark vote, the RWDSU said in a statement earlier this week. There are some 5,800 workers at the Amazon facility, meaning voter turnout was approximately 55%.
The RWDSU also said hundreds of ballots have been challenged, “mostly by the employer,” that will need to be addressed after the public count.
Many labor experts viewed the historic unionizing efforts at one of the largest employers in the U.S. as potentially influencing workers elsewhere if it were successful, and possibly having a chilling effect on organized labor efforts if not.
The organized labor movement has languished in the U.S. in recent decades.
In 2020, the percentage of wage and salary workers in the U.S. who were members of unions was 10.8%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 1983, the first year comparable union data is available, the union membership rate in the U.S. was 20.1%.
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