Amazon's PR campaign ahead of union vote shows how worried it is

An Amazon-sponsored billboard urging employees to return their unionization ballots is seen on March 28, 2021 in Bessemer, Alabama.

Elijah Nouvelage | Getty Images

With more than two thirds of the ballots counted, Amazon on Friday secured enough votes to defeat the unionization drive at one of its Alabama warehouses.

The National Labor Relations Board continues to count the ballots, but Amazon has surpassed the necessary threshold in order to clinch a victory in the election. It needed to garner 1,608 votes rejecting unionization, or a little more than 50% of ballots cast. Roughly 700 votes were in favor of joining the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.

Here’s where the vote tally stands now. Refresh this page for the latest updates:

There are also about 500 challenged ballots that remain uncounted, the RWDSU confirmed to CNBC. Amazon challenged the ballots at a rate of nearly 4-1, the union added.

Amazon said it contested roughly 300 ballots, while roughly 200 ballots were challenged by the union. The company said most of the contested ballots were due to issues of eligibility, wherein ballots may have been submitted by individuals who left the company during the voting period. The NLRB told CNBC that it will not release the total number of challenged ballots until after the counting is over.

News of the number of contested ballots was first reported by Reuters.

The ballots could play a big role if the union can claw back enough votes to where the challenged ballots would sway the outcome of the election. The NLRB would then begin a legal process to determine whether to count the challenged ballots, which could take many days or weeks. 

The RWDSU is fighting to represent approximately 5,800 workers at Amazon’s Bessemer, Alabama, warehouse, known as BHM1. The union election has shaped up to be one of the most important organizing campaigns in recent history. Labor groups have been closely watching the campaign with the hope that it will kickstart organizing efforts across the country amid a yearslong decline in private-sector union membership.

No matter what the outcome is, the losing side is expected to challenge the election results. RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum on Thursday signaled the union is already poised to take that step. Appelbaum called on the NLRB to investigate Amazon’s election conduct, including claims that it improperly pushed the U.S. Postal Service to install a mailbox at the Bessemer warehouse.

“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,” Appelbaum said. “But make no mistake about it; this still represents and important moment for working people and their voices will be heard.”

Amazon said it installed the mailbox for the convenience of workers, adding that only the USPS had access to the mailbox.

This story is developing. Refresh this page for updates.

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