Bessemer, Alabama Amazon workers have one more chance to form a union. This time, it won’t be with any interference.
This week, the director of Region 10 of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a decision officially establishing a second vote for Amazon workers at the retail giant’s fulfillment center in Bessemer. Amazon officials were accused of intimidating workers through various means to influence the vote.
In August, it was determined that Amazon violated labor law; and the NLRB’s hearing officer recommended the regional director direct a second election.
No dates have been announced for the new election as well as the means of voting.
Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) stated that the NLRB’s decision proved what he’d been saying all along.
“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,” said Appelbaum.
RWDSU officials had filed a complaint with theNLRB earlier this year challenging the results of an election held by workers at an Amazon wish fulfillment center in Bessemer, Alabama. They accused Amazon of violating parts of the National
Labor Relations Act. The union said it was helping workers fight for better wages, benefits and worker conditions.
The original organizing ended with 1,798 “no” votes, 738 “yes” votes, 76 “void” ballots and 505 uncounted ballots that were challenged by RWDSU officials. The NLRB said, in a statement, that their challenges weren’t sufficient in numbers to alter the outcome of the vote.
After the vote failed, union leaders said Amazon purposely had a collection/mailbox installed in front of the facility and had security cameras monitoring the collection box for votes. They also, allegedly, pressured workers into bringing their ballots to work and dropping them in the collection boxes the company established.
Back in March, the House of Representatives voted in favor of the Protect the Right To Organize (PRO) Act, which includes forbidding employer interference and influence in union elections. The goal of the PRO Act was to stop employers from using a worker’s immigration status against them and shield them from the effects of the Janus v. AFSCME U.S. Supreme Court decision that lets workers opt-out of the union, but still receive the same benefits.
Bessemer workers complained that restroom and stretching counted towards “time off task” (TOT), the company tracked how many packages each individual worker scanned through and were given an automated write up every 30 minutes.
RWDSU, after allegedly obtaining emails via an Freedom of Information Act request, showed that Amazon’s leadership pushed the U.S. Postal Service to install mailboxes outside of the Bessemer warehouse.
Amazon has stood firm in its beliefs and principles all year. In a statement, Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel said “Our employees have always had the choice of whether or not to join a union, and they overwhelmingly chose not to join the R.W.D.S.U. earlier this year. It’s disappointing that the NLRB has now decided that those votes shouldn’t count. As a company, we don’t think unions are the best answer for our employees.
“While we’ve made great progress in important areas like pay and safety, we know there are plenty of things that we can keep doing better, both in our fulfillment centers and in our corporate offices, and that’s our focus—to work directly with our employees to keep getting better every day,” continued Nantel.