NLRB Recommends New Union Election at Amazon Warehouse
Amazon.com workers in Alabama may get a second chance to vote on whether to form the company's first unionized warehouse in the United States. A hearing officer for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) determined Monday that Amazon violated federal labor laws by encouraging employees to vote against unionizing at its Bessemer, Alabama warehouse facility and pressuring the USPS to install a ballot collection box, reports CBS News. Amazon workers at the Alabama facility voted by a wide margin not to unionize in early April.
The hearing officer said the dropbox, which was installed near Amazon surveillance cameras and gave the appearance that Amazon, not the federal labor board, was conducting the election, interfered with laboratory conditions necessary to conduct a fair election. This comes after the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) submitted objections to the NLRB charging Amazon with illegal misconduct during the union vote at its Alabama warehouse.
Total Retail's Take: Questions and doubts have swirled since Amazon's high-profile union vote was tallied with results in favor of the retailer. The e-commerce giant has a long history of vacillating between worker benefit improvements, such as a recent mass wage raise, and taking criticism over the treatment of its employees, like the staged "sickouts" from warehouse workers over COVID safety concerns. Therefore, it's not surprising that the failed unionization effort in its Bessemer, Alabama facility has drawn doubts around Amazon's undue influence on its workers' decision.
Stuart Appelbaum, president of the RWDSU, said in an emailed release, "the question of whether to have a union is supposed to be the workers’ decision and not the employer’s. Amazon’s behavior throughout the election process was despicable. Amazon cheated, they got caught, and they're being held accountable."
Firing back, a spokesperson for Amazon said to CBS News on Monday, "at the end of the day, [our employees] voted overwhelmingly in favor of a direct connection with their managers and the company ... Their voices should be heard above all else, and we plan to appeal to ensure that happens."
Amazon is expected to challenge the recommendation, which hasn't been released publicly yet. A regional director from the NLRB is expected to rule within weeks on whether to schedule a new election.
Kristina Stidham is the digital content director at Women in Retail Leadership Circle and sister brand Total Retail. She is passionate about digital media and handles video, podcast and virtual event production for both brands. You can often find her at WIRLC, TR, or industry events with her camera and podcasting equipment recording interviews with retailers.
Kristina holds a B.A. in Media Studies and Production from the Temple University Klein College of Media and Communication in Philadelphia. Go Owls! When she's not in the office, she loves to go on long walks, sing around the house, hangout with her two pet guinea pigs, and travel to new places.