Amazon pressured Alabama workers to vote against unionization

NLRB official recommends new vote

AMAZON WORKERS at the company’s Bessemer, Ala., warehouse may get another chance to vote on unionizing after an NLRB hearing officer found the company violated Labor laws by encouraging employees to vote against unionizing during a vote this past spring. – Lucy Nicholson | Reuters photo

A hearing officer for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has determined that Amazon violated federal labor laws by encouraging employees to vote against unionizing at its Bessemer, Ala., warehouse facility and pressuring the United States Postal Service (USPS) to install a ballot collection box after the NLRB had denied the company’s request for a ballot box at the site, potentially violating Labor laws.   

The hearing officer said the dropbox, which was installed near Amazon surveillance cameras and gave the appearance that Amazon, not the federal Labor board, was conducting the election, interfered with laboratory conditions necessary to conduct a fair election.

“The Employer’s conduct in causing this generic mail receptacle to be installed usurped the NLRB’s role in administering Union elections,” the hearing officer’s report released Aug. 2 read.

RWDSU said the company took special care to harass, intimidate and cajole its workers into voting against forming a union.

Placing ballot boxes for union votes that close to management offices may have violated federal Labor laws, and it was alleged that the company was keeping a watchful eye on the ballot box to see who was voting.

The NLRB hasn’t made an official statement yet, but word of the hearing officer’s findings and recommendation have been confirmed in statements issued by both Amazon and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), which led the unionization effort for the workers in Bessemer.

The NLRB’s filing and recommendations will be sent to the agency’s regional director in Atlanta. An official ruling will then be issued by that regional office which oversaw the election. If the regional director in Atlanta agrees with the NLRB’s filing, a new election will be called and results from the last election would be tossed out.

In a statement regarding the pending filing, Stuart Appelbaum, president of RWDSU, said the NLRB hearing officer made the right call.

“Amazon’s behavior throughout the election process was despicable,” Appelbaum said. “Amazon cheated, they got caught, and they are being held accountable.

“Throughout the NLRB hearing, we heard compelling evidence how Amazon tried to illegally interfere with and intimidate workers as they sought to exercise their right to form a union,” Appelbaum said. “We support the hearing officer’s recommendation that the NLRB set aside the election results and direct a new election.”


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