Amazon warehouse workers from the company's Bessemer, Alabama site will soon vote on whether or not they want to join the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union, NPR reports. The vote will take place by mail due to concerns around COVID-19, the National Labor Relations Board decided and will run from February 8 to March 29.
The scheduled vote follows a hearing where Amazon and the retail workers union decided who in the company should be eligible to have a say in the unionization effort. Both parties unanimously agreed that the company's many seasonal workers should also be able to vote.
Unions are common within Amazon's European operations, but no unionization efforts in the US have yet succeeded. The company is known for its aggressively anti-union stance, and earlier this year was called out for posting two job listings that described union-busting roles.
"Having a union at Amazon would give us the right to collectively bargain over our working conditions including items such as safety standards, training, breaks, pay, benefits, and other important issues that would make our workplace better," the Bessemer workers' union-backed website reads.
The website states that the workers want a union contract for the purposes of holding Amazon accountable for safer working conditions. "Nineteen workers have died at Amazon facilities since 2013. We face outrageous work quotas that have left many with illnesses and lifetime injuries," it reads. The unionization efforts also aim to change workers' employment from "at-will" employment to "just cause" employment, where Amazon would have to prove a violation of company policy before terminating employment.
If the Alabama unionization efforts are successful, it could open the door to similar efforts in other locations. Amazon runs 110 warehouses across the US and employed almost 1.4 million workers across Amazon and Whole Foods between March and September 2020.