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Amazon's union vote counts start in Alabama, New York

By Jeffrey Dastin and Danielle Kaye

March 31 (Reuters) - U.S. regulators overseeing union elections at Amazon.com 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.

As the second-largest U.S. private employer, Amazon (AMZN) 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, overseen by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), 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 New York City's 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 (AMZN) 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.

The NLRB found that Amazon (AMZN) 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; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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