Twitch pulls Amazon ads promoting 'no' vote in union election

Workers in an Alabama Amazon warehouse are deciding whether to unionize. Twitch says it doesn't allow any political ads.

Laura Hautala
Laura Hautala
Laura Hautala Former Senior Writer
Laura wrote about e-commerce and Amazon, and she occasionally covered cool science topics. Previously, she broke down cybersecurity and privacy issues for CNET readers. Laura is based in Tacoma, Washington, and was into sourdough before the pandemic.
Expertise E-commerce, Amazon, earned wage access, online marketplaces, direct to consumer, unions, labor and employment, supply chain, cybersecurity, privacy, stalkerware, hacking. Credentials
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Laura Hautala
2 min read

Warehouse workers in Alabama are voting on whether to unionize. Twitch pulled Amazon's anti-union ads from its platform Thursday.

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Livestreaming service Twitch has pulled anti-union ads placed by Amazon during an ongoing union election at a warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama. The ads, each just over 30 seconds long, featured workers explaining why they plan to vote against forming a union, saying they don't want an outside group coming in when they already have everything they need.

Twitch is a subsidiary of Amazon, and it cited a policy against running political ads as its reason for removing them.

"Twitch does not allow political advertising, and these ads should never have been allowed to run on our service," a company spokesperson said in a statement Thursday. "We have removed these ads and are evaluating our review processes to ensure that similar content does not run in the future. We are grateful to our community for bringing this to our attention."

Amazon didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. The union election is set to conclude at the end of March, with 5,800 employees receiving ballots by mail and choosing whether to let the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) represent them in contract negotiations. In addition to the ads seen on Twitch, Amazon has run high-profile ads in The Washington Post and The New York Times advocating for a $15 federal minimum wage. These ads don't mention the union election.

RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum criticized Amazon's anti-union ads, saying they were an attempt by the online retail giant to "gaslight its workers about the dreadful working conditions at its Bessemer warehouse."

The election is the first union vote at a US Amazon warehouse since 2014, when a group of Delaware workers chose not to unionize. In the Alabama election, Amazon asked the National Labor Relations Board to require workers to vote in person at the warehouse rather than by mail, saying it would allow higher rates of voting. Union organizers objected, with concerns about exposure to the coronavirus, and the NLRB ruled that the vote could be conducted by mail.

The union drive has drawn national attention as Amazon continues to post increasingly massive profits during the pandemic, with actor Danny Glover visiting workers in person on Monday and tweeting his support for the union effort.