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‘Pervasive antiunion tactics’ swayed Amazon workers in vote

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Gillian Smith

Workers at Amazon’s facility in Bessemer, Alabama voted against forming a union, with the final tally of 1,798 to 738 votes. The result represents Amazon’s latest success in fending off efforts to unionize. 


Angela Cornell

Clinical Professor of Law, Director of the Labor Law Clinic

Angela Cornell, professor of law and director of the Labor Law Clinic at Cornell University’s Law School, says the Amazon vote represents a system that favors corporate interests over workers’ fundamental rights. 

Cornell says:

“Although there was momentum in support of workers at the Bessemer Amazon facility, it’s extremely difficult to organize in the U.S., particularly in the south. 

“Workers were under considerable pressure by Amazon to vote no. Workers were barraged with a ferocious anti-union campaign with numerous captive audience speeches, text messages, signs in the bathroom facilities, and a range of other questionable tactics. Unions were not given access to the facility and could not effectively counter management’s campaign. 

“The union will file objections to the election based on Amazon’s conduct. The U.S. has one of the lowest union density rates of industrialized countries, and in large measure it is the result of a labor law system that dramatically favors corporate interests and property rights over workers’ fundamental right of freedom of association. The union density rate in the public sector in the U.S., where there is union access and not the pervasive antiunion tactics is five times higher than the private sector. The Amazon vote in Alabama confirms the need for serious labor law reform in the private sector.”

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