Birmingham Amazon Warehouse

By: Lucas Green | Contributor

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Amazon and Alabama have both been historically against unions, but workers at an Amazon Warehouse in Bessemer, AL, looked to change that. The workers cited poor working conditions as their main reason for trying to form a union. “They are treating us like robots rather than humans,” Linda Burns said in an interview with the Associated Press.

There was fierce support from the Pro-Union group as Vermont Senator, Bernie Sanders, made an appearance at a rally in Birmingham. On April 9, the final results were tallied, and ultimately the union was voted down. Less than 30 percent of the votes cast were pro-union, with the final total being 1,798 votes against the union and 738 votes supporting the union.

While this unionization effort was swatted down, those in favor did not see it as an absolute defeat. They promised to continue fighting for a union not only in Bessemer but around the country. President Joe Biden posted on Twitter in support of unions back in February, and a poll from Gallup found that 65% of Americans still support unions. “Unions are polling almost two-thirds support from American workers,” Wade Rathke, the chief organizer of United Labor Unions Local 100 in New Orleans, told NPR, “Yet we’re losing badly in places like Bessemer. That’s a disconnect.”

Many blame this disconnect on employee’s fear. Supporters of the union in Bessemer say this was a significant reason for the vote going Amazon’s way. While Amazon provides good benefits for its employees, such as a $15.30 an hour starting pay, health care, dental insurance, and vision insurance, some say the actual conditions the employees work in and the standards they are expected to meet are too much. Even though the conditions may be miserable for the employees, they don’t leave because of their benefits. This is why many workers were believed to have voted against the union and fear losing either their benefits or their jobs even.

Amazon released a statement saying, “The union will say that Amazon won this election because we intimidated employees, but that’s not true. Amazon didn’t win — our employees chose to vote against joining a union.”

For now, the fight for the first Amazon union has been halted, but in the eyes of the pro-union crowd, the battle is far from over.