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More than 5,000 Amazon warehouse workers in Alabama will participate in the company's first union election since 2014, after the National Labor Relations Board issued a ruling [PDF] Friday setting the terms and dates, despite the company's objections.
The election will take place via mail between Feb. 8 and March 29, and the NLRB will count the ballots on March 30. While Amazon argued against allowing a mail-in ballot election in favor of an in-person vote, the NLRB determined that mailed ballots reduced the risk of the spread of COVID-19.
The warehouse workers in Bessemer, Alabama, will elect whether to unionize with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. The union petitioners hope to improve working conditions, change contracts from "at-will" to "just-cause" (meaning that workers cannot be fired without a reason) and improve the process to file grievance procedures with the company.
Amazon, known for its efforts to curb unionization, originally opposed the petition to allow the union election. Though small groups of Amazon workers have held union votes a few times over the past two decades, none has succeeded.
Anna Kramer is a reporter at Protocol (@ anna_c_kramer), where she helps write and produce Source Code, Protocol's daily newsletter. Prior to joining the team, she covered tech and small business for the San Francisco Chronicle and privacy for Bloomberg Law. She is a recent graduate of Brown University, where she studied International Relations and Arabic and wrote her senior thesis about surveillance tools and technological development in the Middle East.