For the second time in year, workers at Amazon’s fulfillment center in Bessemer have voted whether to join forces with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.
And as of April 1, a strike by workers at Warrior Met Coal is in its second year.
Amazon workers also voted on a unionization proposal in Staten Island, New York. Late Thursday, both Amazon elections were deemed too close to call. But while yes votes led the New York tally, no votes were leading 993 to 875 in Bessemer, with 416 more votes to be evaluated, according to The Washington Post.
“If either warehouse votes yes, it would result in the first successful unionization effort at the nation’s second-largest private employer and generate major momentum for the labor movement there,” said the Post, which is owned by Amazon owner Jeff Bezos. “Labor experts say the tight vote is indicative of the current climate for workers, who are in high demand thanks to low unemployment amid rising inflation.”
Bessemer workers voted 2-to-1 against unionizing last year, but the National Labor Relations Board called for a repeat election because of disputes.
At Warrior Met, members of the United Mine Workers of America walked off the job a year ago. Workers are protesting contract changes and concessions made when the former Walter Energy declared bankruptcy in 2016. The Brookwood-area mines re-emerged as part of Warrior Met, also a publicly traded company.
Cecil Roberts, president of UMWA International, criticized the company in a press conference Thursday. “The company has likely missed out on close to a billion dollars in lost coal sales this past year and it continues to bleed money paying high-priced lawyers instead of paying the employees who gave them over $1.1 billion to come out of bankruptcy. Instead of offering a fair and decent contract for this skilled, professional workforce, Warrior Met is recruiting strikebreakers from across the country to come take Alabama workers’ jobs.”
The company maintains that union comments are misleading, saying that many of the workers have joined the company since 2016; that the average wage is $97,000 per year — in the top 10%for wage earners in the country; and that due to wage increases over the last five years, some workers earn $10.58 per hour more than they did under the 2016 contract.