The vote count against unionization reached over 1608, the simple majority needed for either side to prevail, on Friday. The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which is behind the Bessemer union drive, may contest the results.
For Amazon, and its workforce, the stakes of the vote were incredibly high. A successful union drive in Bessemer could have encouraged Amazon employees around the country to make similar pursuits, potentially changing how Amazon works with many of its 950,000 US-based employees.
The effort was galvanized by a group of employees at the Amazon facility, as well as unionized workers from other local plants and facilities, including poultry workers, who are already represented by RWDSU.
It was an uphill battle from the start. Not only did the workers take on the second largest employer in the United States but they are based in the South, where union representation is lower than in other parts of the country.
“We take employee feedback seriously, including Ms. Bates’, but we don’t believe her comments represent the more than 90% of her fulfillment center colleagues who say they’d recommend Amazon as a great place to work to friends and family,” an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement following Bates’ testimony. The spokesperson added that Amazon employees “earn at least $15 an hour, receive comprehensive healthcare and paid leave benefits.”