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Yesterday, the New York Times reports, the counting of votes in a unionization effort at a Bessemer, Alabama, Amazon distribution center has begun.

But, the Times writes, "the results of the union election, one of the most consequential in recent memory, may not be known until later this week or early next week because the vote can often involve a painstaking process that will be closely scrutinized by representatives from the union and Amazon.

"The ballots, which were mailed out to workers in early February, must be signed and had to be received by the National Labor Relations Board at its Birmingham office by the end of Monday."

First, an NLRB staffer will read the worker's name contained on an outer envelope, confirm eligibility against a master list, and give either side the opportunity to challenge.  Then, the NLRB will count the uncontested ballots, posting  the interim results with every group of 100 votes.

According to the story, "A finding of more contested ballots than uncontested is likely to set off legal arguments by the Retail Warehouse and Department Store union, which has led the organizing drive, and Amazon over the eligibility of each contested ballot. Each side has about a week to make its case before N.L.R.B. certifies the vote.

"Either side can contest whether the vote was conducted fairly. The union, for instance, could argue that the company took steps to improperly sway the vote, by potentially making workers fearful of reprisal if they supported organizing.

"If the union prevails, workers fear that the company may shut down the warehouse. Amazon has backed away from locations that brought it headaches before."

KC's View:

The betting here is that however the vote goes, there will be legal challenges.  The whole thing is likely to devolve into the cluster-muck.