Amazon workers in Alabama will vote again on forming a union after the US labor board invalidates election results
NLRBordered a second union election for workers at Amazon's warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama.
- Workers in April voted not to form a union, but the NLRB ruled Amazon illegally influenced the vote.
Amazon employees voted in April not to form a union, but the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, under which they would have unionized, challenged the election, accusing Amazon of unfair
In a decision issued Monday, the NLRB sided with the RWDSU, concluding that Amazon did violate labor laws by installing a mailbox outside its warehouse and trying to gauge employees' support for the union in mandatory meetings.
Amazon's "flagrant disregard" for the NLRB's standard mail-ballot voting process "compromised the authority of the Board and made a free and fair election impossible," Lisa Henderson, the NLRB regional director for Region 10, which includes Bessemer, wrote in the ruling.
Henderson's decision said that the NLRB will hold a second election, though Amazon first has the right to request a review of the ruling.
If a second election is held, workers employed during the last payroll before the election is announced — including those who were on strike, sick, on vacation, or temporarily laid off — will have the chance to re-vote.
"Today's decision confirms what we were saying all along – that 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. Amazon workers deserve to have a voice at work, which can only come from a union," RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum, said in a statement.
"Our employees have always had the choice of whether or not to join a union, and they overwhelmingly chose not to join the RWDSU earlier this year. It's disappointing that the NLRB has now decided that those votes shouldn't count," Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel said in a statement.
Nantel's statement also reiterated Amazon's position that a union isn't "the best answer for our employees," saying "continuous improvement is harder to do quickly and nimbly with
Many Amazon employees in Bessemer, however, disagreed, thrusting the company into the spotlight earlier this year in a heated union election that gained national attention.
After the NLRB rejected Amazon's request to require in-person voting during the pandemic, Amazon pushed the US Postal Service to installed a mailbox in front of its warehouse specifically for the election, arguing it was needed to increase voter turnout. However, the NLRB disagreed, saying it undermined the agency's authority to oversee union elections and gave employees the "impression that [Amazon] is involved in conducting the election."
The RWDSU ultimately filed 23 objections to the election, six of which the NLRB determined amounted to unfair labor practices, including Amazon's installation of the mailbox in violation of a previous NLRB ruling and the company giving the impression that it was surveilling workers who used the mailbox.
Since the Bessemer vote, Amazon employees in New York have also asked the NLRB to hold a union vote, though they temporarily withdrew the request earlier this month.
Amazon's labor practices have come under increasing scrutiny during the pandemic as warehouse and delivery workers have drawn attention to everything from high rates of serious injury, to being forced to urinate in bottles, to racially biased health and safety precautions.
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