EXPLAINER: What to know about the Amazon union vote

FILE - In this Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021, file photo, Michael Foster of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union holds a sign outside an Amazon facility where labor is trying to organize workers in Bessemer, Ala. Nearly 6,000 Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer are deciding whether they want to form a union, the biggest labor push in the online shopping giant's history. Mail-in voting started in early February. Ballots must be received by the end of Monday March 29, 2021. The National Labor Relations Board starts counting votes the next day. (AP Photo/Jay Reeves, File)
FILE - In this Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021, file photo, Michael Foster of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union holds a sign outside an Amazon facility where labor is trying to organize workers in Bessemer, Ala. Nearly 6,000 Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer are deciding whether they want to form a union, the biggest labor push in the online shopping giant's history. Mail-in voting started in early February. Ballots must be received by the end of Monday March 29, 2021. The National Labor Relations Board starts counting votes the next day. (AP Photo/Jay Reeves, File) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

NEW YORK – Nearly 6,000 Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer, Alabama, are deciding whether they want to form a union, the biggest labor push in the online shopping giant's history.

The stakes are high for Amazon. The organizing in Bessemer could set off a chain reaction across its operations nationwide, with more workers rising up and demanding better working conditions. Meanwhile, labor advocates hope what's happening in Bessemer could inspire workers beyond Amazon to form a union.

But organizers face an uphill battle. Amazon, the second-largest private employer in the country, has a history of crushing unionizing efforts at its warehouses and its Whole Foods grocery stores.

Workers in Bessemer have until Monday to cast their votes. A majority of voters must vote “yes” in order to form a union.

Here's more on the unionization efforts:

WHAT DO ORGANIZERS WANT?

Besides higher pay, they want Amazon to give warehouse workers more break time and to be treated with respect. Many complain about their back-breaking 10-hour workdays with only two 30-minute breaks. Workers are on their feet for most of that time, packing boxes, shelving products or unpacking goods that arrive in trucks.

One worker in Bessemer who recently testified at a Senate hearing described the work as “grueling” and said workers are tracked throughout the day and could be punished or fired for taking more break time.