Latest turn in fight to form Amazon’s first-ever U.S. union
A federal Labor relations official has ordered a second union election at an Amazon facility in Bessemer, Ala., after finding that the tech giant interfered with and violated workers’ labor rights during a high-profile, but unsuccessful, union drive earlier this year.
The decision by National Labor Relations Board Region 10 Director Lisa Henderson largely rests on the e-commerce giant’s decision to install a mailbox in front of the fulfillment center to collect employees’ mail-in ballots for the union election.
“By causing the Postal Service to install a cluster mailbox unit, communicating and encouraging employees to cast their ballots using the mailbox, wrapping the mailbox with its slogan, and placing the mailbox at a location where employees could reasonably believe they were being surveilled, the Employer engaged in objectionable conduct that warrants setting aside the election,” Henderson wrote last week in the order directing a new election.
“The Employer’s flagrant disregard for the Board’s typical mail-ballot procedure compromised the authority of the Board and made a free and fair election impossible,” Henderson said.
The new election is the latest turn in the union’s fight to form Amazon’s first-ever U.S. union.
Workers at the facility overwhelmingly voted — 1,798 to 738 — against joining the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) in April.
But after the union filed dozens of objections to the election results and a multi-week hearing was overseen by the NLRB’s Atlanta regional office, an NLRB hearing officer recommended in August that the board conduct a new election.
Kerstin Meyers, the hearing officer for the NLRB’s Region 10 office, found that Amazon interfered with the “conditions necessary to conduct a fair election” by installing the mailbox and offering employees anti-union badges and signs.
Henderson’s decision affirmed that recommendation and outlined directions for the new election.
RWDSU lauded the move, saying it confirmed the objections they raised about Amazon’s behavior throughout the union drive.
“Amazon’s intimidation and interference prevented workers from having a fair say in whether they wanted a union in their workplace —
and as the Regional Director has indicated, that is both unacceptable and illegal,” Stuart Appelbaum, president of the union, said in a statement. “Amazon workers deserve to have a voice at work, which can only come from a union.”