US labor official suggests Amazon workers in Alabama re-launch unionization vote • The Register

Amazon interfered with an official election by its warehouse workers in Alabama to unionize – and staff should have a second chance to vote again, a U.S. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) official concluded.

After pro-union workers, represented by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Stores Union (RWDSU), working at the BHM1 distribution center in Bessemer, Cotton State, lost their union election in April, the union quickly filed objections with the labor relations board.

“A free and fair election was impossible,” said [PDF] NLRB hearing officer Kerstin Meyers this week. “In these circumstances, I recommend that a second election be ordered.

RWDSU chairman Stuart Appelbaum claimed that Amazon deliberately designed an unfair electoral environment that skewed the vote. For example, Amazon asked the US Postal Service to set up a mailbox right outside the warehouse, and the mega-company sent a message to its employees encouraging them to send their ballots through that box. The mailbox is said to have been placed in a tent, marked with Amazon’s anti-union message and a sign to vote here – in plain view of Amazon surveillance cameras. It has been claimed to be a clear example of Amazon ramming its oar far too deep into the voting process.

The work manager agreed. “The employer’s conduct in installing this generic mail receptacle usurped the NLRB’s exclusive role in administering the union elections,” Meyers wrote.

“Despite the union’s substantial margin of defeat, the employer’s unilateral decision to create, for all intents and purposes, an on-site collection box for NLRB ballots destroyed lab conditions and warrants a second election.

The e-commerce giant also not only inundated workers with messages to vote no, as expected, it made them attend mandatory 30-minute meetings that were essentially anti-union conferences. At the end of these meetings, anti-union leaflets and pins were left for staff to pick up, with supervisors monitoring them as they left.

“I find that by distributing these anti-union materials in the presence of managers, the employer has committed reprehensible conduct,” Meyers noted. “The misconduct in this case has occurred on numerous occasions in countless meetings. Virtually all employees in the bargaining unit have been victims of the misconduct because it was about meetings. mandatory employees. In the circumstances, I find this conduct reprehensible. “

Amazon has also been claimed to have hired off-duty cops to patrol its facilities during the election period, although it was able to demonstrate to the labor watchdog that these officers were needed due to recent security incidents on site. . Likewise, Amazon has been accused of persuading the county to alter traffic light signals to interfere with pro-union street corner campaigns, although it has been shown that Amazon simply asked the county to conduct a study of traffic flows in the area before the union campaign. has begun.

In the end, 738 votes were cast to join the RWDSU, and 1,798 votes were cast against about 5,860 possible voters; 505 ballots were contested, which would not be enough to change the result.

That said, now that Meyers has recommended a second vote, a regional director of the labor committee will decide over the summer whether to demand another election.

“We support the hearing officer’s recommendation that the NLRB overturn the election results and hold a new election,” Appelbaum said in a statement.

“As President Biden reminded us earlier this year, whether or not to have a union is supposed to be the decision of the workers, not the employer. Amazon’s behavior throughout the electoral process was despicable. Amazon cheated, they got caught and they are held responsible. “

Amazon said it intended to appeal to block another election, adding that its workers “voted overwhelmingly in favor of a direct link to their executives and the company.” ®

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