Amazon hit with another anti-union complaint from warehouse workers

“What’s Amazon afraid of?”

Former NLRB chairman Wilma Libman

A unionization watchdog agency that has been organizing unionization efforts at Amazon’s warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, announced its intention to file a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) alleging Amazon has participated in explicit anti-union activities — the second such complaint in about six months.

“Removing union literature from break rooms, limiting workers’ ability to talk with each other, compelling attendance at captive audience meetings to listen to anti-union messages — all of these actions expose Amazon’s undisguised efforts to stifle workers’ voices and its contempt for their rights to join together,” former NLRB chairman Wilma Libman said in a statement. “What’s Amazon afraid of?”

The complaint, filed by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), follows a very similar one filed after the Bessemer union’s first unionization vote in early 2021. While the complaints vary somewhat in their details, both paint an unflattering picture of how Amazon is treating its first real union.

Big yikes — The RWDSU’s new complaint summarizes what it sees as Amazon’s three biggest violations of the National Labor Relations Act. None will shock those who’ve been following along with Amazon’s response to Bessemer’s unionization process.

First up: Amazon has been allegedly been removing pro-union literature from break rooms at the Bessemer warehouse.

“You can see our faces on those fliers,” said union organizing committee member Anthia Sharpe. “How dare they literally tear up our faces.”

Amazon has also reportedly promoted amongst warehouse workers a new rule limiting workers’ access to the warehouse beyond 30 minutes before and after their shifts. This makes holding union meetings significantly more difficult.

And then there are the new mandatory meetings workers are being forced to attend, in which managers spew anti-union messaging to staff. The RWSDU points out that this behavior is specifically prohibited by the National Labor Relations Act.

These tactics have worked before — It’s clear, from these allegations, that Amazon is doing its very best to interfere with the second round of this union election. Most troubling about this interference is that similar methods have actually worked for Amazon in the past, even after Amazon had been called out on it.

Amazon is apparently cocky enough to use the same strategy now. The National Labor Relations Board has already ruled that Amazon’s conduct in the first election was, indeed, illegal — that’s the whole reason a second vote has been called at all. And yet the company is willing to go ahead and try interfering once again.

The Bessemer union is fighting collectively for better working conditions and compensation. Amazon, on the other hand, is opposed — its hellish warehouse conditions are working just fine for its profits. Bessemer’s union would be the first for Amazon; the company surely fears other warehouses would follow in its footsteps were the union to succeed.