After hearing union complaints about the vote in Amazon’s Bessemer, Alabama facility, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) may recommend another election due to violations of labor law – but the decision isn’t final yet.
On Monday, the NLRB officer hearing the case said that Amazon violated labor law during the April vote, whose results should be set aside, according to the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).
“Amazon’s behavior throughout the election process was despicable. Amazon cheated, they got caught, and they are being held accountable,” said RWDSU president Stuart Appelbaum.
The union had accused Amazon of illegal misconduct during the unionization vote, including a variety of tactics allegedly intended to intimidate or interfere with the worker’s choice. One major controversy was over the mailbox set up by the US Postal Service to make voting “convenient, safe and private,” which union organizers said was monitored and tampered with instead.
After months of campaigning and counter-campaigning, the result of the April vote was overwhelmingly against unionization, with only 30% of Bessemer employees voting in favor. It was the first vote to create a new RWDSU chapter since 2014, and the results were hotly contested.
The hearing officer’s recommendations have been passed to the NLRB regional director for a formal decision, including the possibility of a second election. That decision is still pending.
Amazon has seen its workforce expand significantly during the Covid-19 pandemic, as lockdowns and other measures favored online commerce over traditional retail. The company had over 950,000 employees, mainly in warehouses and fulfillment, as of this spring.
A negative NLRB verdict would be the latest in a string of setbacks for Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who recently stepped away as CEO to focus on his space venture Blue Origin. Last week, the Biden administration rejected his challenge to NASA awarding the lunar lander contract to rival Elon Musk’s SpaceX, though Bezos had offered a $2 billion incentive.
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