21:12 GMT24 February 2021
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    Amazon's Bessemer, Alabama, warehouse is slated to begin issuing mail-in ballots on February 8 for an election that would put it closer to becoming the first Amazon location to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). Amazon has asserted that it wishes to educate its workers on "the facts of joining a union."

    Documents filed with the National Labor Relations Board Thursday show Amazon has requested the US labor board to intervene and halt an upcoming mail-in vote on unionization from proceeding. 

    According to the January 21 filing for the stay, there have been several "gaps" in NLRB precedent amid the planning of the election, including "Acting Regional Director errors, and missed opportunities for mail-ballot improvements, all with the rights of thousands of employee-voters at stake." 

    "It cries out for a stay, so that the Board can set election matters back on course before ballots are mailed," lawyers wrote. Otherwise, this case threatens to tie up the Board (and a federal court) for years, instead of resulting in a clear and cogent resolution of the issues up front." 

    The vote, scheduled for February 8, would make the Bessemer fulfillment center - which employs around 6,200 workers - the first location to be part of the RWDSU. Amazon insists that the vote should be held in person, rather than by mail. 

    In addition to the "Motion to Stay an Election" request, Amazon has also filed for a "review of the acting regional director's decision and direction of election." 

    Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) has expressed vocal support for the unionization of workers. Hours before Amazon's Thursday filings, Sanders argued via Twitter that the American multinational technology company "doesn't want its workers to form a union" because workers would benefit from higher wages, better benefits and more "control over their lives."

    Amazon has defended its actions, arguing it wants to educate employees on “the facts of joining a union." The website 'doitwithoutdues.com' has been cited by the company and warns Bessemer facility employees against paying union dues, asking, "why pay almost $500 in dues? We’ve got you covered* with high wages, health care, vision, and dental benefits."

    “We will continue to insist on measures for a fair election," the company said in a statement provided to Reuters. 

    The push to form a union and obtain better job security comes as many non-unionized workers are being laid off by companies losing money, closing and going bankrupt amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

    Earlier this week, it was revealed that grocery delivery service Instacart plans to lay off 1,877 employees, despite the company getting increased business during the government-imposed lockdowns.

    An Instacart spokesperson told CBS News that the layoff come as a result of grocery stores wanting their own employees to do the work they were previously enlisting delivery company employees to cover. 

    "As a result of some grocers transitioning to a Partner Pick model, we'll be winding down our in-store operations at select retailer locations over the coming months," the spokesperson claimed. 

    However, a Kroger spokesperson denied that its company - which also owns stores like Harris Teeter and Ralph's - played any role "in Instacart's decision to suspend its in-store operations model." The spokesperson then encouraged those seeking employment to apply to any of their several chains. 


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