About 500 of the ballots cast in Amazon’s landmark union election were challenged before the e-commerce titan took a commanding lead, the labor group involved in the push said.
The challenged ballots could make a difference if the number of votes in favor of unionizing Amazon’s Bessemer, Alabama, warehouse catches up with the number of votes against when counting resumes Friday, according to Reuters, which first reported the figure.
Amazon and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union challenged the ballots in a private process before the National Labor Relations Board began the public count Thursday afternoon, the news agency reported.
RWDSU spokesperson Chelsea Connor confirmed the number of challenged ballots, saying Amazon contested votes “at a rate of nearly 4 to 1.” The NLRB also made some challenges, she said.
The board will reportedly adjudicate the challenged ballots — which account for roughly 15 percent of the 3,215 votes cast — if they’re needed to determine the election’s outcome.
Amazon’s large lead so far makes it unclear whether they’ll be necessary. The NLRB had counted 1,100 votes against unionization by the time counting stopped Thursday, compared to just 463 votes in favor.
Parties to a union vote can challenge ballots that they suspect came from an ineligible voter or were tampered with, among other reasons, the news agency reports.
An NLRB spokesperson said the agency could not release the number of challenged ballots or the total number of votes cast until the end of the count. Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment early Friday.
The vote count is slated to resume Friday morning in a closely watched election that could bring the first union to an Amazon warehouse in the United States.
Amazon has fought tooth and nail against the union push while labor activists and political figures such as President Biden have thrown their support behind the effort.
The RWDSU pledged to continue the fight Thursday while acknowledging it was likely to lose the vote.
Citing emails among federal employees, the union has reportedly accused Amazon of pushing the US Postal Service to place a mailbox outside the Bessemer facility — a move that could lead workers to think the company had a role in collecting their ballots.
“Our system is broken,” RWDSU president Stuart Appelbaum told the Washington Post. “Amazon took full advantage of that, and we will be calling on the labor board to hold Amazon accountable for its illegal and egregious behavior during the campaign.”
With Post wires