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A sign outside the Amazon fulfillment center in Beesemer. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

A complaint by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) alleges that Amazon illegally interfered in the union election at its Bessemer, Alabama warehouse, CNBC reports.

The big picture: The RWDSU alleged in its complaint to the National Labor Relations Board that Amazon threatened layoffs, loss of pay or benefits, or a facility closure if workers voted in favor of the effort which flopped earlier this month.

  • Only 30% of workers at the warehouse voted for unionization during the more-than-month-long ballot.

State of play: RWDSU outlined 23 objections in its filing. Among them were claims that Amazon removed employees who asked questions at meetings, fired an employee for passing out union authorization cards and disciplined someone for being outspoken in their support for the union.

  • The actions had a "chilling effect on support for the union," RWDSU said, per CNBC.
  • The other side: "The fact is that less than 16% of employees at BHM1 voted to join a union. Rather than accepting these employees’ choice, the union seems determined to continue misrepresenting the facts in order to drive its own agenda. We look forward to the next steps in the legal process," Amazon said in a statement.

Why it matters: Unionization efforts within Amazon could be a bellwether for the retail and warehouse industry. While RWDSU has unionized some European Amazon facilities, no U.S. Amazon facilities have unionized yet.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include a statement from Amazon.

Go deeper

58 mins ago - World

COVID cases surge in South Africa in sign Omicron wave is coming

Recreated from Our World in Data; Chart: Axios Visuals

South Africa alerted the world to the Omicron variant. Now data out of South Africa may serve as a warning of what we're facing.

Driving the news: South Africa recorded 11,535 new cases Thursday with 22.4% of tests coming back positive — up from an average of about 300 new cases, with a 2% test positivity rate 10 days earlier. The country's top public health officials expect that exponential rise to continue as Omicron rapidly becomes the dominant variant.

BuzzFeed to go public, after shareholders approve SPAC deal

Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for BuzzFeed

BuzzFeed is set to become publicly traded on Monday, after shareholders of a SPAC called 890 Fifth Avenue Partners voted to approve a previously-announced merger.

Yes, but: The vast majority of the money the SPAC raised in January was yanked, a signal that investors aren't very optimistic about BuzzFeed's future prospects.

Omicron cases confirmed in 4 U.S. states

A healthcare worker inserts a Covid-19 rapid test into a machine in Denver, Colorado. Photo: Daniel Brenner/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Five cases of the newly-discovered Omicron variant were detected in New York, Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Thursday, making New York the fourth state with confirmed cases.

The latest: In addition to New York, the variant has been confirmed in California, Colorado and Minnesota.

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