US labor official says Amazon union vote should be redone | Business and Economy News
The union accused Amazon of illegally threatening staff with reduced benefits, compromising the integrity of the election.
A U.S. labor council official recommended the resumption of a historic Amazon.com Inc union election in Alabama, where employees voted overwhelmingly against making their warehouse the first online retailer to organize in Alabama. United States.
In the coming weeks, a regional director of the U.S. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) will decide whether to order the repeat based on this recommendation, a board official said on Monday who asked not to be named.
The Retail, Wholesale and Department Stores Union (RWDSU), which workers refused to join earlier this year by a margin of more than 2-1, said Amazon had illegally threatened staff with reduced benefits and compromised the integrity of the election via a ballot box he had secured outside. the warehouse.
The labor official’s recommendation in support of a new election focused on issues with the collection box, a person familiar with the matter said. Reuters news agency said it had not seen a copy of the recommendation, which a labor council official said could be released on Tuesday.
During the NLRB hearing, an employee said Amazon security guards were using keys to open the mailbox, testimony that former NLRB president Wilma Liebman could be reason enough to reverse the result, the Bloomberg news agency reported.
Amazon said it did not have access to outgoing mail and had asked the Postal Service to install the mailbox in order to increase turnout in union elections.
The labor council has the power to invalidate the election results in response to conduct that could have altered the result and prevented employees from freely choosing to unionize, which may even give the appearance of surveillance or interference management in the voting process.
Amazon has announced its intention to appeal.
“Our employees had the chance to be heard in a noisy time when all kinds of voices weighed in the national debate, and in the end, they voted overwhelmingly in favor of a direct link with their managers and the company. Amazon said in a statement.
RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum welcomed the recommendation on Monday and said: “Whether or not to have a union is supposed to be the decision of the workers, not the employer.
During a three-week hearing in May, the RWDSU argued that Amazon improperly swayed the vote by pressuring employees to put the ballots in the mailbox while they were in view of the warehouse cameras, creating a surveillance perception that US labor law prohibits. Amazon also inappropriately adorned a tent surrounding the mailbox with messages related to its anti-union campaign, RWDSU had said.
Amazon said the mailbox was set up to give nearly 6,000 eligible voters a convenient option to return their ballots and that the tent protected workers from cameras, which predated the collection box.
The recommendation casts doubt on Amazon’s victory over the organizing effort in a contest that ended in a setback for the U.S. labor movement. The union’s organizing campaign received implicit support from US President Joe Biden and lawmakers, including Senator Bernie Sanders, who visited the warehouse.
U.S. labor law prohibits companies from threatening to cut benefits or shutting down facilities when workers support a union. They are also prohibited by law from spying on the organization of activities or leading employees to believe that they are under surveillance.
Yet employers like Amazon have a great deal of legal leeway to campaign aggressively, including requiring employees to attend mandatory meetings that cast a negative light on unions. Amazon hosted such meetings, texted employees, and even posted campaign materials in at least one of the Alabama warehouse restroom stalls.