National news recap: Derek Chauvin’s trial continues, Amazon warehouse workers tally vote on union

A banner encouraging workers to vote in labor balloting is shown at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Ala. Vote counting in the union push in Bessemer is expected to start as early as Thursday, April 8, but hundreds of contested ballots could muddy the outcome if it’s a close race. (AP Photo/Jay Reeves, File)

Derek Chauvin Trial 

Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who drew national attention after kneeling on the neck of George Floyd for several minutes last year, is in his second week of trial, facing charges of second and third-degree murder. 

Over the past two weeks, numerous witnesses were brought to the stand, including George Floyd’s girlfriend, several eyewitnesses to the murder and other police officers who served alongside Chauvin. Katie Blackwell, a Minneapolis police investigator, stated the position Chauvin was using to restrain George Floyd was not taught by the department. 

“I don’t know what kind of improvised position that is, but it’s not what we train,” said Blackwell, as reported by CNN on Monday.  

The Minneapolis chief of police also testified that day, declaring Derek Chauvin’s use of force unnecessary and that it violated the policies of the Minneapolis Police Department. 

On Tuesday, Morries Hall plead the Fifth Amendment and refused to testify in the trial. Hall was in a car with George Floyd when police stopped them on the charge of Floyd using a counterfeit bill.

As stated by ABC, “His lawyer contends anything he says about his alleged drug activity with George Floyd could leave him vulnerable to being charged with third-degree murder in the death of the 46-year-old Black man.”  

Amazon Unionization  

In Bessemer, Alabama, the result of a high-stakes election on unionization at an Amazon warehouse remains unclear, with the vote’s result a turning point in the company’s history after greatly increased profits during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

If successful, all members of the facility will join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, a group which works to improve working conditions for Americans employed in retail, grocery stores and health care. According to CNBC, 3,215 votes were submitted from the 5,800 employees. 

Although all votes were turned in by March 29, the National Labor Relations Board, which has aided in the voting process, said the exact date the results of the votes will be released is unclear. Amazon and the RWDSU both have the option to contend the results of the election, which could delay the conclusion of a winner. 

The vote comes after numerous complaints from the warehouse of poor working conditions, including the lack of restroom or meal breaks. Other employees across the country have accused Amazon of similar issues and a practice of firing workers who organized or participated in walkouts. 

According to an article from CBS, Jennifer Bates, a worker at the Bessemer warehouse, said Amazon has forced employees into long anti-union meetings and displays anti-union posters across the facility. 

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