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Workers at a warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, will vote next month on whether to unionize. The largest, most viable effort to unionize Amazon in many years began last summer at a Fairfield Inn outside of Birmingham in the right-to-work state.
It was late in the summer and a group of employees from a nearby Amazon warehouse contacted an organizer in the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. They were fed up, they said, with the way the online retailer tracked their productivity and wanted to discuss unionizing. As the workers arrived at the hotel, union officials watched the parking lot to make sure they had not been followed.
Since that clandestine meeting, the unionizing campaign at Amazon’s fulfillment center in Bessemer has moved faster and further than just about anyone has expected. By late December, more than 2,000 workers signed cards indicating they wanted an election, the union said The National Labor Relations Board then determined there was “sufficient” interest in a union election among the warehouse’s roughly 5,800 workers, which is a significant bar to hit with the government agency that oversees the voting process. About a week ago, the board announced that voting by mail would start next month and continue through the end of March.