In November, the union petitioned to hold the elections, saying it had sufficient support among workers whom it said should be part of the bargaining unit. The company asked for more time to prepare a response, citing the busy Christmas shopping season. "This is a year when more consumers are shopping online than ever before and expecting quick and accurate deliveries," said Amazon in a statement with the N.L.R.B.
Haggling over the terms of a union election can drag on for months, but the process has evolved relatively quickly. The union submitted to the N.L.R.B. submitted an application for election in Bessemer's camp. about a week before Thanksgiving.
During the hearing, which began Friday, lawyers for the union and Amazon discussed how many workers at the center could vote in the elections. Amazon argued that the warehouse's contract workers, who are usually hired during the holiday season, should be included along with full-time and part-time workers performing the same duties.
The union agreed to include the seasonal workers, although this means expanding the pool of workers it needs to attract. But by admitting the seasonal problem, the union has likely avoided days of Amazon testimony that stretch well beyond Christmas and could slow some of the organizational momentum.
"Our interest is to ensure that there are elections soon," said Richard Rouco, the union's lawyer, on Monday.
The other sticking point is whether the vote should be done in person or by post. Amazon wants the election to be in person, even though the N.L.R.B. has raised serious concerns about its election observers' exposure to the coronavirus in the Bessemer area, where a high rate of viral infections has occurred.
Harry Johnson, an Amazon attorney, suggested renting local hotel rooms and buses exclusively to federal officials to prevent them from being exposed during the election.