The first ballots counted in a bid to unionize an Amazon warehouse in Alabama were heavily against the effort, according to an unofficial tally of the results by The New York Times.
More than two-thirds of the first 600 votes to be counted were against unionization. The ballots are being counted in a random order in the National Labor Relations Board’s office in Birmingham.
The union seeking to represent workers said late Wednesday that 3,215 ballots had been cast — or about 55 percent of the roughly 5,800 workers who were eligible to vote. Hundreds of ballots are being contested, mostly by Amazon, according to the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.
The vote counting is being shown on a videoconference call to a small number of outsiders, including journalists, in addition to representatives from the union and the company.
Union elections are typically held in person, but the labor board determined that the election should be conducted by mail to minimize risks during the pandemic. The ballots were sent to workers in early February and were due at the agency before March 30. Since then, Amazon and the union have had a chance to challenge whether particular workers were eligible to vote.
When the public counting is done, the agency will announce the formal results if the margin of victory for one side is greater than the number of contested ballots.
If the margin is narrower, then it could take two to three weeks for the N.L.R.B. to hold a hearing to sort through the contested ballots and take evidence from both sides on whether they should be counted.