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Alabama Amazon warehouse workers tilting pro-union, labor reps say

The Amazon warehouse in Alabama where workers voted down a union last year now has so many more new employees that labor reps say they’re more confident of sealing a contract this year. Nearly half of the 6,143 workers at the Bessemer, Alabama, facility are new to the company since the infamous vote there in April that dashed any hopes of a union contract. The vote last year was later challenged by the National Labor Relations Board, which said that Amazon interfered with the process by intimidating its workers. The NLRB ordered a new vote and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union said during a Monday evening press conference that it has a better chance of securing a contract this time. It’s not immediately clear why new employees would be more likely to vote for the union, but reps said on the call Monday that people at the facility were wearing T-shirts promoting the union and were “invigorated,” according to the Bloomberg report. Last year’s vote resulted in 1,798 Amazon workers at the facility voting against a contract and just 738 voting in favor of the union, which had previously predicted overwhelming support for its drive. Ballots for the new vote are due March 28. Workers at the at the facility are wearing the T-shirts and also are going to employees’ homes to discuss the drive, several workers said during the conference. “The loss was a blessing,” said one worker, Kristina Bell, according to Bloomberg. “It made us motivated to win even more.” Another worker, Isaiah Thomas, said he was reprimanded for by Amazon for talking to colleagues about the union during his break. The union shared a memo with reporters during the conference in which Amazon said “While we understand your activity may have occurred during your break time, you were interfering with fellow associates during their working time, in their work areas,” management said according to Bloomberg. “Amazon respects your right to engage in lawful solicitation in accordance with our lawful policy.” The union filed a complaint against Amazon with the NLRB alleging that the Amazon was unlawfully monitoring Thomas’ activities and violating his rights to talk about the union campaign. Amazon reached a settlement agreement with the union in December, in which it agreed not to interfere with employees’ right to organize a union. The Seattle-based retailer is facing other organizing campaigns, including at a Staten Island facility. Amazon did not immediately respond for comment.

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