Amazon workers in Alabama will get a chance to vote again if they want to form a union. If this happens, they will become Amazon’s first unionized warehouse.
US Labor Board Says Amazon Pushed Workers To Vote Against Forming A Union
The news places Amazon’s Bessemer, Alabama warehouse back into the limelight. The warehouse tried to form a union earlier this year. However, the movement stopped abruptly after the union voted not to proceed.
However, a US labor board official ordered a re-vote last Monday. An agency review found that Amazon improperly pressured warehouse staff to vote against forming a union.
The company’s decision to interfere with the process caused the board to scrap the results of the previous vote. As a result, the regional director of the National Labor Relations Board ordered new elections. Observers expect Amazon to file an appeal.
Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union Hails Decision
The Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union hailed the order for new elections. Union president Stuart Appelbaum issued a statement supporting efforts to unionize at America's second-largest private employer with over 950,000 employees.
“Today's decision confirms what we were saying all along, “Applebaum said. “Amazon's intimidation and interference prevented workers from having a fair say in whether they wanted a union in their workplace,” he added.
Meanwhile, Amazon expressed dismay over the decision. Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel noted that Amazon workers at the Alabama warehouse overwhelmingly chose not to form a union.
“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.”
First Union Vote Ended In Disaster
Earlier this year, Amazon workers’ first attempt to unionize the Bessemer warehouse ended in disaster. Despite nationwide support including messages from President Joe Biden and other union supporters, the vote went 2 to 1 against the union. Due to pandemic concerns, voting was held via mail, with over half of the warehouse workers voting.
Afterward, the union filed legal action against the election. They alleged that Amazon engaged in unfair labor practices. Amazon denied the charge.
The NLRB held a hearing before the decision went down. However, the retail company appealed the recommendation, saying it did not act illegally or intimidate workers.
It also called on the agency to accept the initial decision of the Bessemer Amazon workers. Meanwhile, the union reiterated that Amazon “cheated and got caught.”
Unions Are Foreign in Amazon US Centers
Despite its widespread acceptance in Europe, unions are invisible in the United States. The company has actively fought off against labor organizers.
In fact, the Bessemer is the first attempt to unionize since 2014. Others planned to follow but didn’t push through.
Last October, Amazon workers from a Staten Island warehouse petitioned for a union election. However, they withdrew the request later.
The NLRB exposed some of Amazon’s anti-union campaigns. One staffer testified that managers would always say that the branch can shut down if the union materializes.
Other officers told workers that the union will only waste their dues on fancy vacations and cars. One controversial issue involved the placement of the US Postal service mailbox for the union vote.
While Amazon insisted that the placement right by the workplace helps make votes safe and convenient. However, Amazon workers said that the location might mean the company was trying to monitor the vote.
Watch the News Time video reporting that Amazon workers in Alabama to get another union election:
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