Amazon union vote close in Alabama, labor winning in NY based on early counting

By Jeffrey Dastin and Danielle Kaye

(Reuters) -U.S. regulators overseeing union elections at Inc's warehouses in New York and Alabama started tallying thousands of votes cast by workers in contests to determine whether to establish unions at each facility.

If workers vote for a union, it would be a historic first for the online retail giant, which has long opposed any effort to organize its employees.

With 200 ballots counted from workers in Bessemer, Alabama, the vote was tied with thousands of ballots left to count, according to a Reuters tally of the count overseen by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

With 363 ballots counted from workers at a warehouse in New York City's Staten Island, the vote was 213-150 in favor of creating a union with many more ballots left to count.

As the second-largest U.S. private employer, Amazon has long been a focus for labor advocates who hope that a single union victory will spark organizing efforts across the country.

The vote counts starting Thursday may not result in a final determination. Ballots that either side challenged as invalid would be addressed after the count in the event of a close election and could alter the outcome. In addition, parties can object to conduct around the vote that could set aside the results as happened last year in Alabama.

A simple majority of votes cast is needed to win.

Workers at the company's JFK8 warehouse in Staten Island voted in person over a six-day period that began on March 25. They are voting on whether to form a new union, the Amazon Labor Union.

A rerun of last year's failed union organizing campaign at Amazon's warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, concluded on March 25. Workers there voted by mail. They are voting whether to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.

According to the union, in Alabama there were 2,375 ballots received, hundreds of which were challenged.

The NLRB found that Amazon improperly interfered in the original contest, which the company won by a 2-1 margin.

(Reporting by Jeffrey Dastin in Palo Alto, California and Danielle Kaye in New York; Additional reporting by Doyinsola Oladipo and Hilary Russ in New York, Nivedita Balu and Niket Nishant in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Henderson, Anna Driver and Lisa Shumaker)

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