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Milwaukee Community Journal

Amazon Offers $2K to Quit Before Union Vote

Actor Danny Glover came down to Alabama to encourage workers to vote yes

Brian Young's picture
Feb 23, 2021

Amazon is taking part in a huge union-busting campaign to stop employees at the Bessemer Alabama warehouse from voting for a union. UCOMM previously reported on the union-busters they have hired and how the company has placed anti-union literature in the bathroom. Now Amazon is offering workers checks to leave their jobs before they vote for the union.

According to the Payday Report, workers throughout the plant received emails offering them bonuses if they quit. The email offers people who have worked 2 peak seasons $2,000 to quit and $3,000 if they worked 3 peak seasons. While this is not a new practice at Amazon, they sometimes use this plan to lower staffing following a busy season like Christmas, the timing is suspect, especially since the company waited until 8 weeks after the holiday season to offer the checks.

Workers who quit now would be unable to vote in the union election. It would also open up jobs where management could replace pro-union workers who quit with anti-union ones. With the anti-union campaign from Amazon getting especially heated, these bonuses could be enough to convince some pro-union workers to leave. Other workers told the Payday Report that they were told they could quit now, take the money, and then get hired back after the union vote.  

These “resignation bonuses” could also raise legal issues for Amazon. Under federal labor law, employers are barred from improving the material conditions of workers in the lead up to union elections. By giving bonuses to these workers the union could contest the results of the election and say that the company conferred benefits to induce a no vote.

“The NLRB routinely finds violations for ‘conferring benefits’ to induce employees not to vote for a union during the “critical period” between the time the election petition is filed and the election is held,” University of Wyoming Labor Law Professor Mike Duff, a former prosecutor for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) told the Payday Report.

While Amazon was attempting to pay workers to quit, those leaving the warehouse were greeted by actor Danny Glover. A longtime union activist, Glover was outside the warehouse holding a sign reminding the workers to send in their Yes ballots. Glover also talked with some of the workers who were surprised to see a Hollywood celebrity in Bessemer. Glover told that this was only his second time leaving San Francisco since the pandemic started.

“It’s about justice,” Glover said. “The union is about looking out for the welfare of workers, and is willing to stand up and fight for justice....It’s just one step, among the many steps, that are being taken around the country, in the service of justice.”

Glover also recorded a video supporting the workers that the union put up on social media.

A similar video was made by the NFLPA in January. Voting on the union election is currently underway and will continue through March 30th.

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