Amazon union vote in Alabama overturned by regional labor office

A regional office of the National Labor Relations Board on Monday ordered a new union election at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama, uphold...


A regional office of the National Labor Relations Board on Monday ordered a new union election at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama, upholding the union challenge to a vote the company decisively won.

The decision was widely expected after a hearing officer advised in August that the results are overturned and that a new election be held.

The company said after the August decision it intended to appeal to the Washington Labor Council if it did not win regionally, but did not say on Monday whether it would follow through. .

About half of nearly 6,000 eligible workers at the Bessemer, Alabama, warehouse, voted by mail in February and March on whether to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Stores Union. The tally against the union membership bid was two to one.

The union filed a formal objection to the election shortly after the results were announced in April, arguing that Amazon had compromised the terms of a fair election by urging the Postal Service to install a collection box at the warehouse, among other complaints. The union said the box, which was not authorized by the labor council, made Amazon appear to be monitoring which workers had voted.

In her decision on Monday, the regional director of the labor council for the Atlanta area agreed, writing that Amazon “had given a strong impression that it was in control of the process” by arranging the installation of the box. “This dangerous and inappropriate message to employees destroys confidence in board processes and in the credibility of election results,” concluded Director Lisa Y. Henderson.

Ms Henderson also found that Amazon improperly “polled” employees – that is, tried to determine how they would vote – by advising workers at mandatory meetings that they could take items from. “vote no” such as pins that were fully laid out. perspective of human resources managers.

Union president Stuart Appelbaum said in a statement Monday that the ruling showed “Amazon’s intimidation and interference was preventing workers from having a say in their desire to form a union.”

Amazon said the box was intended to make it easier for employees to vote and that it did not have access to the ballots workers cast in it.

“Our employees have always had the choice of whether or not to join a union, and they overwhelmingly chose not to join RWDSU earlier this year,” said Kelly Nantel, spokesperson for Amazon, in a statement. “It is disappointing that the NLRB has now decided that these votes should not count. As a company, we don’t think unions are the best answer for our employees.

The regional office’s decision is a setback for Amazon at a time when its business model is under increasing surveillance. In September, California approved a law it would force warehouse employers like Amazon to disclose the productivity quotas they impose on workers and ban quotas that prevent workers from taking breaks and obeying health and safety rules.

Earlier this month, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which has nearly 1.4 million members elected a new president which ran in part on the promise of an aggressive campaign to unionize the company.

The Bessemer campaign was undoubtedly the most serious challenge ever by a union at a nationwide facility owned by Amazon, which currently has no unionized warehouse in the United States. Amazon warehouse workers in Staten Island seemed to qualify for a union election in October, but later withdrawn their request for a vote.

In opposing the way the Bessemer election went, the retail workers union argued that Amazon consultants and managers created fear among workers by removing them from the workplace. Mandatory anti-union meetings if they asked skeptical questions and telling workers that they risked lost wages or benefits, or even their jobs, if they were unionized.

The Labor Board hearing officer’s August recommendation dismissed many of the union’s objections in this vein, but the officer found that “the employer’s unilateral decision to create, for all purposes Useful, an on-site collection box for NLRB ballots destroyed the lab. conditions ”which are supposed to prevail in a trade union election.

The hearing officer pointed out that the collection box was surrounded by a tent, on which Amazon printed a campaign message (“speak for yourself” and a directive to workers to “post your newsletter. vote here, ”and that the tent appeared to be on Amazon surveillance cameras.

Ms Henderson, the regional manager, echoed the findings and said Amazon essentially flouted its pre-election decision denying the company’s request to provide equipment, like certain types of boxes, to help ensure collection in safe ballot papers in a manual election.

“I specifically disagreed with the employer’s suggestions to facilitate the voting, as the employer is neither responsible for the conduct of the election nor charged or authorized to facilitate the process,” wrote Ms. Henderson.

She added: “The employer ignored the spirit of my directive by unilaterally requisitioning the installation of a postal mailbox.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Amazon union vote in Alabama overturned by regional labor office
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