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In a new interview with Yahoo Finance, U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh hinted that the outcome of a historic union vote at an Amazon (AMZN) warehouse in Alabama is imminent. He also objected to anti-union “intimidation” in general, citing Amazon’s campaign to dissuade workers from supporting the organizing drive.

“The Amazon situation — we’re going to see what the result of the vote is in the next few days,” Walsh says.

The National Labor Relations Board started tallying votes on Tuesday, but analysts anticipated a lengthy process because both sides — the Retail, Wholesale, Department Store Union (RWDSU) and Amazon — could exercise their right to contest any of the thousands of votes on the grounds of eligibility or procedural issues.

The election pitted the nation’s second-largest private sector employer against labor advocates eager to reverse decades of union decline and gain a foothold in the rising tech sector. Nearly 6,000 employees at the facility in Bessemer, Alabama, were eligible to vote in the election, which pitted the nation’s second-largest private sector employer against labor advocates eager to reverse decades of union decline and gain a foothold in the growing tech sector. Early February saw the start of mail-in voting, which ended on Monday.

‘They should be allowed to vote,’ says the author.
Even after the vote-counting is done, appeals to the result at the labor board or in the courts could take months.

Walsh told Yahoo Finance editor-in-chief Andy Serwer, in response to a question about Amazon’s anti-union campaign at the facility, “There should be no intimidation when somebody wants to join union.”

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“If the workers feel they want a union, they should have that opportunity to be able to vote and put a union in their workplace,” he adds. “That’s how I feel.”

The comments echoed those made by President Joe Biden in a video released last month, in which he cautioned employers against using coercion to discourage employees from joining a union. Though Biden did not directly address Amazon, his reference to “jobs in Alabama” was widely interpreted as a reference to the tech giant’s labor dispute.

The election pitted the nation’s second-largest private sector employer against labor advocates eager to reverse decades of union decline and gain a foothold in the rising tech sector. Nearly 6,000 employees at the facility in Bessemer, Alabama, were eligible to vote in the election, which pitted the nation’s second-largest private sector employer against labor advocates eager to reverse decades of union decline and gain a foothold in the growing tech sector. Early February saw the start of mail-in voting, which ended on Monday.

 

Amazon union vote results

Amazon defended its opposition to employee unionization in Alabama in a letter to Yahoo Finance in February.

“The fact is that Amazon already offers what unions are requesting for employees: industry-leading pay, comprehensive benefits from the first day on the job, opportunities for career growth, all while working in a safe, modern work environment,” Amazon Spokesperson Maria Boschetti said.

Walsh, who was mayor of Boston for seven years before joining Biden’s administration, is the former president of the Boston Metropolitan District Building Trades Council, a labor union. He is the first union leader to hold the position of Labor Secretary in nearly 45 years.

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He is a significant departure from his predecessor, Eugene Scalia, the son of late conservative Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia. Eugene Scalia, a partner at the white-shoe law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, spent his time at the Labor Department weakening employee protections, so much so that a New Yorker profile dubbed him a “wrecking ball aimed at workers.”

“Workers might take the opportunity to vote for a union; some workers might take the opportunity not to vote for union,” Walsh says. “But I think that anti-union rhetoric really doesn’t help.” –Yahoo

 

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