Amazon workers vote against unionization in Alabama. What does this mean for the online retail giant?

People protest in support of the unionizing efforts of the Alabama Amazon workers, in Los Angeles, California, U.S., March 22, 2021. Photo by REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Workers at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama voted against unionization on Thursday night. It was a big win for Amazon, the second largest employer in the U.S. after Walmart. The vote drew national attention as organizers pushed to create the first union at an American Amazon facility. 

However, the head of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Workers Union plans to file a formal complaint, alleging Amazon aggressively campaigned against the union and used intimidation tactics against workers. 

Many of the tactics used by Amazon, including placing flyers in bathrooms and holding mandatory anti-union meetings during work hours, are legal, according to Rebecca Givan, a professor of labor studies at Rutgers University. 

On the election results, she says, “It's not a huge surprise, not because these workers don't want or need a union, but because this is typically how it goes under current labor law, as a result of the large anti-union campaign that Amazon and other employers tend to mount. What we have is workers voting after receiving these messages of fear and uncertainty all day long.”