Amazon union election update: The period of ballot challenges is over, the count will come next. Per the union there were 3,215 ballots received. 5,805 went out. That’s a participation rate of ~55%. Much higher than organizers previously told me they expected.
What does the higher-than-expected turnout mean for the union? Well, if a lot of those people voted ‘yes,’ that’s good for the union. If they voted ‘no,’ then that’s bad for the union. Guess what I’m saying is don’t read too much into the turnout.
Union says hundreds of ballots were challenged, mostly by the company, and those are set aside unopened for now. If the margin in the election is smaller than the number of those challenged ballots, then those bad boys come into play and this is gonna take longer to sort out.
I would just add something with regard to turnout and expectations: this was an unusually long mail voting period with hard campaigning on both sides and insane national attention. I would not bother thinking much about what the turnout could mean.

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More from @jamieson

19 Mar
Talking with Amazon workers in Alabama, I was surprised at how many had union experience themselves or in their families. My dispatch on how Birmingham’s union past is shaping this campaign, and testing (false) preconceptions about labor and the South…
I'd been reaching out to a lot of Amazon workers not involved in the campaign, to get a clearer view of things. The first one I spoke to said she was voting yes partly because her grandmother urged her to. A long time ago grandma had a union job at the phone company.
Amazon understands this dynamic. One of the company's most vocal 'no' voters, Ora McClendon, used to be a shop steward for the same union at another facility. She had a negative experience and publicly opposes the union. Amazon is happy to put her out there.
Read 5 tweets
18 Mar
When I was in Alabama I hung out with a guy who’d driven from Oregon just to help the union’s Amazon campaign. No arrangement, just showed up. He volunteered his video skills then was hired. There’s a lot of that — just an eagerness to pitch in from all over. Really something.
There were volunteers who came down from Boston as well. No arrangement. They just asked how they can help. Organizers took them out to lunch, probably to check their motives. Then they let them help. Knock on doors, pass out fliers at the ballgame. It is a unique thing happening
I think quite a few unions would not have let these folks into the hall, let alone sent them out to talk to people in the community about the union. The organizers seemed genuinely appreciative of the solidarity, and wanted to put the energy to good use.
Read 4 tweets
15 Mar
I just spent three days in Bessemer AL where the Amazon union election is happening. There’s a ton of interest in this election -- the biggest in ~20 years -- so I want to share some observations and let you all know where things stand. (thread)
This is an unusually long 7-week mail-in election for 5,800 Amazon workers, with two weeks left to go. Organizers expect maybe 40% participation. Back of the napkin suggests thousands of workers still have ballots out there, hence the hard campaigning on both sides
Union got 3000+ cards signed ahead of the election, but organizers acknowledge Amazon’s anti-union campaign surely turned some of those into 'no' votes. Amazon probably benefited from that pressure especially in the earlier voting.
Read 9 tweets
7 Mar
I’ve seen a bunch of viral tweets about boycotting Amazon in solidarity with the warehouse workers in Alabama. To be clear, the union involved in the election @RWDSU has NOT called for a boycott and has nothing to do with this, a spokesperson confirms.
Boycotts are serious business. They are carefully deliberated within unions. Less so on Twitter!
The pro-union Amazon workers are not trying to inflict economic pain on their employer. They’re trying to win a union election. Big difference. An outside boycott could muddy the messaging and open up a bunch of unknowns. If I were part of the union effort I wouldn’t like this.
Read 4 tweets
5 Feb
BREAKING: The labor board has denied Amazon's request to stop the union election from going forward at its Alabama warehouse. Ballots are scheduled to go out in the mail Monday morning. This thing is on.
Amazon asked the board to review its case arguing that the election should happen in-person *during a full-blown pandemic*. In a two-sentence order the board said it found "no substantial issues warranting review." Amazon's motion to stay also denied.
Oof. Even two GOP members of the board shot down Amazon here, essentially saying there's no good reason for an in-person vote in this case. That's got to sting.
Read 5 tweets
3 Feb
In a WaPo story yesterday, the president of the union organizing Amazon’s warehouse in Alabama said they’ve gathered more than 3,000 union cards there. That figure has made some folks I've talked to queasy — and others optimistic — and it’s worth explaining why.
First off, that’s a big number! Having 3,000+ Amazon workers at a single warehouse sign union cards was tough to imagine not long ago. It’s a sign of real strength for the union, RWDSU. The concern is the size of the bargaining unit.
The NLRB has given the green light for an election involving about 6,000 Amazon workers. You need to win a simple majority of votes cast. If those 3,000+ come out for the union, the union wins. Problem is, employers always scare off some of the workers who signed cards.
Read 6 tweets

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