Ruling Orders Revote on Amazon Union

NLRB official finds company pressured employees to oppose organizing
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 2, 2021 7:40 PM CDT
Updated Nov 29, 2021 6:55 PM CST
Amazon Pressured Union Voters, US Official Says
Michael Foster of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union holds a sign outside an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Ala., in February.   (AP Photo/Jay Reeves, File)

(Newser) Update: After a finding that Amazon exerted improper pressure on employees at an Alabama warehouse, a federal labor official has ordered another vote on whether to authorize a union there. The company said it will appeal the ruling by an official of the National Labor Relations Board, NPR reports. A union official said the ruling confirmed "that Amazon's intimidation and interference prevented workers from having a fair say." An Amazon spokesperson said Bessemer employees "voted overwhelmingly in favor of a direct connection with their managers and the company. Their voice should be heard above all else." Our story from August follows:

Employees at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama, who voted in April against joining a union, might get to vote again. A National Labor Relations Board official said the company exerted improper pressure on employees to vote no, NPR reports. The officer recommended that another election be held at the Bessemer site. The mail-in vote was almost 2-1 against joining the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, per the Washington Post. "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," said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the union, in a statement. A spokesman for Amazon, which denied the accusations, said a solid majority of employees opposed unionizing. "Their voice should be heard above all else, and we plan to appeal to ensure that happens," he said.

A regional NLRB director will take up the officer's recommendation within weeks and decide whether to throw out the results of the first election and call a second one. Such recommendations are nearly always followed, per the Hill. In a hearing in May, several Amazon employees said the company gave the appearance of monitoring the vote. "Amazon is surveilled everywhere," one said. "You assume that everything can be seen." The union argued that that practice tainted the vote. Workers also testified managers told them that the warehouse could be closed if the union measure passed and that union officials would spend their dues on fancy cars and vacations. The loss was a defeat for labor in general. No Amazon warehouse employees in the US belong to a union. (Read more Amazon stories.)

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