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Amazon Union Vote at Alabama Warehouse Should Be Redone, Official Says

Amazon Union Vote at Alabama Warehouse Should Be Redone, Official Says
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Amazon Union Vote at Alabama Warehouse Should Be Redone, Official Says

Amazon Union Vote at Alabama Warehouse Should Be Redone, Official Says

A National Labor Relations Board hearing officer recommended that the board overturn a union election at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Ala., Where results released in early April showed workers were rejecting a union in a report more than two to one. .

The union announced the recommendation on Monday and Amazon was quick to say it would take action to ensure the initial election result wins.

The hearing officer’s recommendation, which includes holding a new election, will be reviewed by the agency’s acting regional director, who will render a decision on the case in the coming weeks. If the regional manager rules against Amazon, the company can appeal to the Washington Labor Council.

The union campaign at the warehouse, which had more than 5,000 eligible workers, was the most high-profile national organizing effort so far at Amazon, which has always had the effect of aggressively deterring worker activism.

The protest by the union, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, accused Amazon of engaging in unfair labor practices to prevent workers from unionizing.

“Throughout the NLRB hearing, we heard compelling evidence of how Amazon attempted to illegally interfere with and intimidate workers as they sought to exercise their right to form a union,” Union president Stuart Appelbaum said in a statement. “We support the Hearing Officer’s recommendation that the NLRB put the election results aside and hold a new election. “

The union first filed election documents in November, and voting took place by mail between early February and late March.

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The union often complained during the campaign that the company intimidated and threatened workers.

Amazon has disputed the charges and continues to do so.

“Our employees were fortunate enough to be heard during 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,” said an Amazon spokesperson. said Monday in a statement. “Their voice needs to be heard first and foremost, and we plan to appeal to make sure that happens.”

Wilma B. Liebman, who was chairman of the labor council under President Barack Obama, said area directors generally follow the recommendations of hearing officers in such cases.

About a week after the labor commission announced the results in April, the union filed a formal objection to the conduct of the election and asked the commission to overturn it. A commission officer held hearings over three weeks in which both sides called and questioned witnesses.

The union objection claimed that Amazon consultants and employee relations officials created an atmosphere of fear by identifying and removing workers from mandatory anti-union meetings if they questioned company officials, and saying to employees that they risked losing their wages, their benefits or even their jobs if a union was formed.

The union also claimed that Amazon consultants and executives illegally asked workers how they planned to vote and that Amazon fired a union supporter for handing out union cards. He said the company had taken several measures, such as raising wages and distributing goods, to defuse pressure on a union. It is illegal to start taking such measures once a union campaign is underway.

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The union’s objection focused heavily on an on-site collection box that Amazon had repeatedly pushed the U.S. Postal Service to install shortly before the vote began. The union said the box was not authorized by the labor relations board. Amazon said it had lobbied for the box to make it easier for employees to vote and that it did not have access to the ballots workers had placed inside.

The union argued that the presence of the collection box made workers feel like Amazon was monitoring who was voting, and possibly even how they voted.

It is not clear whether the union would improve its performance if the election were replayed. Labor law allows companies to hold frequent mandatory anti-union meetings, and Mr. Appelbaum, the president of retail workers, said high turnover in the warehouse was a major obstacle to the union campaign.

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