Amazon advocating for in-person voting on union amidst the pandemic

Amazon advocating for in-person voting on union amidst the pandemic
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E-commerce giant Amazon has filed a motion with the the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to hold in-person voting on whether to form a union despite the pandemic.

Despite the pandemic, Amazon wants the NLRB to delay the union election scheduled for February 8 so that its warehouse workers at an Alabama facility could cast votes in-person on whether to form a union.


The NLRB has previously decided to hold the election by mail over a period of almost two months instead of through an in-person event.

Union vote at Alabama warehouse

The union election is considered a milestone for the facility and for Amazon as the company has been able to discourage the formation of unions in the US despite its European workers being unionized.

In 2014, a union election was held at a Delaware warehouse but the workers rejected the proposal.


Last week the NLRB announced that the the employees at Amazon's Bessemer, Alabama warehouse will cast their votes by mail due to health risks from the pandemic.

The NLRB decision stated: "A mail ballot election will enfranchise employees who cannot enter the voting location for health reasons or due to positive COVID tests. In addition, a mail ballot election will protect the health and safety of voters, Agency personnel, the parties' representatives, and the public during the current health crisis."

However, Amazon argued that NLRB's Acting Regional Director, Lisa Henderson, "reached the remarkable conclusion that any level of infection or potential infection among employees counts as an 'outbreak.'"


The retail giant argued only 2.88% or 218 people of its 7,575 employees and third-party workers at the facility tested positive during the 14-day period ending on January 7. Amazon said this would not be considered an outbreak.

In the filing, the firm wrote: "If true, facilities will be in a constant state of 'outbreak' unless and until the virus all but disappears, with no manual elections occurring until that unknown time."

Amazon added that a mail election could "disenfranchise dozens or hundreds of voters" because it is imperfect.

Amazon and the pandemic

The e-commerce firm announced that it will be opening a pop-up Covid-19 vaccine clinic in downtown Seattle, Washington.

Amazon will set up the one-day Covid-19 vaccine clinic on Sunday in its headquarters in downtown Seattle. In partnership with the Virginia Mason Medical Center, the retailer aims to administer 2,000 vaccines to the eligible members of the public.

According to a company spokesperson, Amazon will be tasked with providing the space to administer the vaccines, as well as assisting with logistics.

The announcement follows a letter sent by Amazon executive Dave Clark to US President Joe Biden asking him to prioritize the firm’s workers in the government’s vaccine distribution plans.

Clark mentioned in the letter that Amazon “stands ready to assist” in fulfilling the president’s pledge to vaccinate 100 million Americans in his first 100 days of office. He claimed that the company can help in broadening the vaccine distribution, although he did not discuss the details of this claim.

He wrote that Amazon is “prepared to leverage our operations, information technology, and communications capabilities and expertise to assist your administration’s vaccination efforts. Our scale allows us to make a meaningful impact immediately in the fight against Covid-19, and we stand ready to assist you in this effort.”

However, the Amazon executive said that in the US, the company has more than 800,000 employees, most of whom work in essential roles at Amazon fulfillment centers, AWS data centers, and Whole Foods Market stores.

Clark argued that these employees “should receive the Covid-19 vaccine at the earliest appropriate time” and mentioned that the ecommerce firm already has an existing agreement with a licensed third-party occupational health care provider to administer vaccines at its facilities.