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Do-over union election at Amazon's Bessemer warehouse is too close to call

BESSEMER, AL - MARCH 29: The Amazon fulfillment warehouse at the center of a unionization drive is seen on March 29, 2021 in Bessemer, Alabama. Employees at the fulfillment center are currently voting on whether to form a union, a decision that could have national repercussions. (Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)
The Amazon fulfillment warehouse at the center of a unionization drive in Bessemer, Alabama. A second union election at the warehouse has concluded, with no winner yet declared.

The counting is over in the second union election at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama. But it's too close to call.

There were 993 "no" votes and 875 "yes" votes, but more than 400 contested ballots remain. According to the National Labor Relations Board, there will be a hearing within a few weeks to decide if any of the challenged ballots will be opened and counted.

More than 6,100 workers were eligible to vote in the do-over election, which was ordered after the NLRB found that Amazon had improperly interfered in last year's tally.

Turnout in this year's vote was down from last year when over half of eligible voters cast ballots. But among those who actually voted this time around, there was greater support for the union. Last year, workers voted more than 2-to-1 against joining the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, a well-established national union.

"This time around we were able to educate more about unions," said Jennifer Bates, a warehouse employee, noting that organizers were able to get closer to workers now that the pandemic has eased.

The RWDSU called for every vote to be counted.

"The tenacity and courage of these workers never wavered in this unnecessarily long process," said RWDSU president Stuart Appelbaum in a statement. "Workers will have to wait just a little bit longer to ensure their voices are heard."

Meanwhile in a separate Amazon union election on Staten Island in New York, the vote count will continue Friday morning. Roughly 8,000 workers were eligible to vote on whether to join the Amazon Labor Union, an upstart organization led by former and current Amazon warehouse employees. With ballots still to count, the union is in the lead, with 1,518 voting yes so far, and 1,154 voting no. Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.