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Union says Amazon took 'illegal actions' to interfere in Alabama vote

An unofficial tally shows warehouse workers rejected the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. The union says it's filing charges.

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More than 3,200 workers cast ballots by mail in the historic vote. 

Ben Fox Rubin/CNET

The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union is filing objections after Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer, Alabama, voted no on certifying the union to represent them, it said Friday.

More than 3,200 workers cast ballots by mail in the historic vote on whether to form the first unionized Amazon facility in the US. While there are several hundred challenged ballots to be considered Friday, enough votes against had been counted to defeat the union effort. 

"Amazon has left no stone unturned in its efforts to gaslight its own employees," Stuart Appelbaum, RWDSU's president, said in a statement. "We won't let Amazon's lies, deception and illegal activities go unchallenged, which is why we are formally filing charges against all of the egregious and blatantly illegal actions taken by Amazon during the union vote."

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The union alleged that Amazon had employees attend lectures in which they heard "mistruths and lies" designed to make them oppose the union, bought ads "spreading misinformation," put up anti-union signs in the warehouse, texted and called workers at home, and "have been lying about union dues in a right to work state."

Amazon denied that it intimidated employees.

"Our employees heard far more anti-Amazon messages from the union, policymakers, and media outlets than they heard from us," it said in a statement. "And Amazon didn't win — our employees made the choice to vote against joining a union."

Separately, RWDSU affiliate union UNI, which represents Amazon workers in Europe, said Amazon's aggression showed that "US labour law is broken." 

"In no other advanced economy is the system so skewed against working people. US workers are required to endure a torturous and toxic environment which cuts off free debate during the election process," UNI Global Union General Secretary Christy Hoffman said in a release.