Amazon signs labor deal, giving workers more power to organize

SEATTLE – Amazon, which faces increasing monitoring of workers’ rights , agreed to make it easier for its warehouse workers to organize ...


SEATTLE – Amazon, which faces increasing monitoring of workers’ rights, agreed to make it easier for its warehouse workers to organize in the workplace as part of a nationwide settlement with the National Labor Relations Board this month.

Under the deal, made final on Wednesday, Amazon said it would email past and current warehouse workers – likely over a million people – notifications of their rights and give them greater flexibility to organize in its buildings. the agreement It’s also easier and faster for the NLRB, which is investigating allegations of unfair labor practices, to sue Amazon if it believes the company has violated the terms.

Amazon has already settled individual cases with the employment agency, but the national reach of the new regulation and its concessions to the organization go beyond any previous agreement.

Because of Amazon’s size – more than 750,000 people work in its operations in the United States alone – the agency said the settlement would reach one of the largest worker groups in its history. The tech giant also agreed to terms that would allow the NLRB to bypass a lengthy and cumbersome administrative hearing process if the agency found out the company had violated the regulations.

The deal stems from six cases of Amazon workers who said the company was limiting their ability to organize their colleagues. A copy was obtained by The New York Times.

This is “a big deal considering the sheer size of Amazon,” said Wilma B. Liebman, who was the chair of the NLRB under President Barack Obama.

Amazon, which was on a recruitment frenzy during the pandemic and is the country’s second-largest private employer after Walmart, has faced increased work pressure as its workforce soared to nearly 1.5 million globally. The company has become a leading example of a rising tide of worker organizing as the pandemic reshapes what employees expect from their employers.

This year, Amazon has struggled with organizational efforts to warehouses in Alabama and New York, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters formally committed to support the organization in the company. Other companies, such as Starbucks, Kellogg and Deere & Company, were also faced with increasing trade union activity.

Compounding the problem, Amazon is struggling to find enough employees to accommodate its growth. The company was founded on a model of high turnover employment, who has now crashed into a phenomenon known as the Great Resignation, with workers from many industries leaving their jobs in search of a better deal for themselves.

Amazon has responded by raising wages and committing to improve its workplace. he said he would spend $ 4 billion to address labor shortages this quarter only.

“This settlement agreement provides Amazon’s crucial commitment to millions of its workers across the United States that it will not interfere with their right to act collectively to improve their workplaces by forming a union or taking further class actions, “Jennifer Abruzzo, the NLRB’s new legal adviser appointed by President Biden, said in a statement Thursday.

Amazon declined to comment. The company said it supports workers’ rights to organize, but believes employees are better served without a union.

Amazon and the employment agency are increasingly in contact and sometimes in conflict. More than 75 cases allegation of unfair labor practices have been sued against Amazon since the start of the pandemic, according to the NLRB database. Ms Abruzzo also issued several memos asking agency staff to enforce labor laws against employers more aggressively.

Last month, the agency threw the results an important and failed union election at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama, claiming the company inappropriately interfered with the vote. The agency ordered another election. Amazon has not appealed the decision, although it can still do so.

Other employers, from beauty salons to retirement communities, have made nationwide deals with the NLRB in the past when they changed their policies.

With the new regulations, Amazon agreed to change a policy that restricted employee access to its facilities and to notify employees that it had done so, as well as inform them of other labor rights. The regulations require Amazon to post notices across all of its operations in the United States and on the employee app, known as A to Z. Amazon must also send an email to everyone who has worked in its operations since March.

In past cases, Amazon has explicitly stated that a settlement does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing. No similar language has been included in the new regulations. In September, Ms. Abruzzo asked NLRB staff to accept these “opt-out clauses” only infrequently.

The combination of conditions, including the “unusual” commitment to email past and current employees, made Amazon’s settlement stand out, Liebman said, adding that other large employers were likely to ‘take note.

“It sends the signal that this attorney general is really serious about law enforcement and what he will take,” she said.

The six cases that led to Amazon’s settlement with the agency involved its workers in Chicago and Staten Island, NY. to organise.

One case was brought by Ted Miin, who works at an Amazon delivery station in Chicago. In an interview, Mr. Miin said an official told him, “It’s past 15 minutes after your shift and you’re not allowed to be here,” when he handed out newsletters. information during a demonstration in April.

“Colleagues were upset that they were understaffed and overworked and staged a walkout,” he said, adding that a security guard had also pressured him to leave the site. while distributing leaflets.

In another Staten Island case, Amazon threatened to call police on an employee who distributed union materials on the spot, said Seth Goldstein, an attorney who represents workers at the company on Staten Island.

The right of workers to organize on site during non-working hours is well establishedsaid Matthew Bodie, a former NLRB lawyer who teaches employment law at the University of Saint Louis.

“The fact that you can hang out and chat – these are times of concerted and protected activity, and the board has always been very protective about it,” he said.

Mr. Miin, who is part of an organizing group called Amazonians United Chicagoland, and other Chicago workers reached a settlement with Amazon in the spring on the 15-minute rule at another delivery station where they had worked last year. Two employees of the company also installed privately with Amazon in a deal that included a nationwide worker rights notice, but the agency does not monitor it.

Mr Goldstein said he was “impressed” that the NLRB pressed Amazon to agree to terms that would allow the agency to bypass its administrative hearing process, which takes place before a judge and in which the parties prepare arguments and present evidence, if it finds the company had broken the terms of the agreement.

“They can get a court order to force Amazon to obey federal labor law,” he said.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Amazon signs labor deal, giving workers more power to organize
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