The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has officially called for a second union vote at Amazon’s Bessemer, Alabama warehouse location, following allegations of illegal interference by Amazon in the first election. The new vote, which will again be organized through the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU), could create the first recognized union at any Amazon location.
RWDSU organizers celebrated the NLRB’s declaration. In a statement, RWDSU president Stuart Applebaum said: “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.”
The NLRB’s decision gives the Bessemer unit a fresh shot at life. We can’t say we’re optimistic about how Amazon will fight back, this time around — we can only hope watchdog groups keep a close eye on the proceedings.
Dirty tactics — After months of underhanded anti-union tactics from Amazon, the Bessemer warehouse voted overwhelmingly against unionization, with just 738 workers voting for the union and 1,798 workers voting against it. A two-to-one victory for Amazon, essentially.
The would-be union filed a formal objection to the results not long after their announcement. Union organizers alleged that Amazon had used aggressive, unlawful tactics to fight back against unionization efforts, up to and including pushing USPS to install an illegal ballot dropbox in front of the Bessemer warehouse. Retail workers filed various other troubling claims with the NLRB, including fear-mongering by managers, poorly disseminated voting information, and handing out “vote no” pins.
Amazon’s not done fighting — Amazon has never been friendly to unionization efforts. The retail giant has made no effort to hide this corporate stance. Quite the opposite, really. Amazon has even gone as far as to spar with lawmakers on social media about why its workers don’t need to unionize.
Despite overwhelming evidence of unlawful election tampering, Amazon has decided to stick to its guns.
“Our employees have always had the choice of whether or not to join a union, and they overwhelmingly chose not to join the RWDSU earlier this year,” an Amazon spokeswoman said in a statement. “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.”
An Amazon union would be historic not just for the company but for the larger tech world, which is notoriously unfriendly to unionization efforts. Bessemer’s efforts earlier this year have already sparked pro-union sentiment in other Amazon locations, like in New York City, where employees filed for a union vote last month.