Amazon is heading into the final stretch of a union push in Bessemer, Alabama, with a sizeable lead over labor organizers. With nearly half the ballots counted Thursday night, 1,100 warehouse workers had rejected the union while 463 voted in favor of it. The count will resume Friday morning in Birmingham, where agents for the National Labor Relations Board are counting each vote by hand. The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which is organizing the Amazon workers in Bessemer, said that 3,215 votes were sent in—about 55% of the nearly 6,000 workers who were eligible to vote. For Amazon, which has more than 950,000 workers in the US and has fought hard against organizing attempts, a union loss could chill similar efforts around the company, the AP reports.
Labor experts and union leaders believe, however, that Bessemer could still inspire other Amazon workers to try to unionize at the company’s hundreds of facilities across the country. And it could spread beyond the company, spurring action at Walmart, the nation’s largest employer, and other big retailers. Stuart Appelbaum, the president of the retail union, struck a grim tone in a statement Thursday night as the initial results rolled in, signaling that the union will put up a legal fight if the vote doesn’t go its way. "Our system is broken, Amazon took full advantage of that, and we will be calling on the labor board to hold Amazon accountable for its illegal and egregious behavior during the campaign," he said, without specifying any allegations. "But make no mistake about it; this still represents an important moment for working people and their voices will be heard."
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