About 500 of the ballots cast in Amazon’s landmark union election were challenged before the e-commerce titan took a commanding lead in the vote count, a report says.
The challenged ballots could make a difference if the number of votes in favor of unionizing Amazon’s Bessemer, Alabama, warehouse catches up with the number of votes against when counting resumes Friday, Reuters reports.
Amazon and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union challenged the ballots in a private process before the National Labor Relations Board began the public count Thursday afternoon, according to the news agency.
The NLRB will reportedly adjudicate the contested votes — which account for roughly 15 percent of the 3,215 ballots cast — if they’re needed to determine the election’s outcome.
Amazon’s large lead so far makes it unclear whether they’ll be necessary. The NLRB had counted 1,100 votes against unionization by the time counting stopped Thursday, compared to just 463 votes in favor.
The RWDSU — which would represent the Alabama workers if the union push succeeds — said Thursday that “hundreds” of ballots had been challenged “mostly” by Amazon. But it’s unclear exactly how many were contested by each side, according to Reuters.
Parties to a union vote can challenge ballots that they suspect came from an ineligible voter or were tampered with, among other reasons, the news agency reports.
An NLRB spokesperson said the agency could not release the number of challenged ballots or the total number of votes cast until the end of the count. Amazon and the RWDSU did not immediately respond to requests for comment early Friday.
The vote count is slated to resume Friday morning in a closely watched election that could bring the first union to an Amazon warehouse in the United States.
Amazon has fought tooth and nail against the union push while labor activists and political figures such as President Biden have thrown their support behind the effort.
The RWDSU pledged to continue the fight Thursday while acknowledging it was likely to lose the vote.
Citing emails among federal employees, the union has reportedly accused Amazon of pushing the US Postal Service to place a mailbox outside the Bessemer facility — a move that could lead workers to think the company had a role in collecting their ballots.
“Our system is broken,” RWDSU president Stuart Appelbaum told the Washington Post. “Amazon took full advantage of that, and we will be calling on the labor board to hold Amazon accountable for its illegal and egregious behavior during the campaign.”
With Post wires