Amazon.com Inc. employees in Alabama voted not to unionize, handing the tech giant a victory in its biggest battle yet against labor-organizing efforts that fueled national debate over working conditions at one of the nation’s largest employers.
Workers at the Bessemer warehouse overwhelmingly rejected unionization, with 71% casting ballots not to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, according to the National Labor Relations Board. Some who voted no said they didn’t see how a union would substantially improve their pay and benefits.
“Amazon didn’t win—our employees made the choice to vote against joining a union,” the company said Friday.
The rejection is a blow to efforts to increase union membership in the private sector nationally, which has experienced a decades-long decline. The Amazon facility represented an opportunity to organize workers at the second-largest U.S. employer, in a fast-growing industry and in an environment where labor unions have thrived in the past—a large blue-collar site where many employees do similar jobs. Amazon workers have no union representation in the U.S.
“It’s much harder to organize big groups. Large employers like Amazon and Walmart have been the holy grail,” said Jonathan Spitz, co-leader of the labor-relations practice at Jackson Lewis, a management-side law firm. Union officials had hoped that it they won the organizing vote in a state not known to be union-friendly, it could have provided momentum for similar efforts elsewhere.