Worker Alleges Amazon Tampered with Mailbox
During the union vote, Amazon opened the mailbox containing hundreds of votes
Last month, workers at an Amazon Plant in Bessemer Alabama rejected an attempt by RWDSU to organize their warehouse. The workers had faced an intense union-busting campaign from Amazon and the union announced that they believed Amazon broke the law during this union-busting campaign. The union filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and for the past two weeks, a hearing has been held to determine if any labor laws were broken.
One of the main areas of the union’s grievances revolved around a mailbox that Amazon had installed on the property. During testimony on Friday, Kevin Jackson, who worked at the warehouse for more than a year, testified that he saw two guards who work for Amazon approach the mailbox and open it. The company pushed workers to vote by dropping their ballot in the mailbox which was under 24-hour surveillance by the company. The mailbox was placed there after the NLRB ruled that the vote would be done completely by mail-in voting and not by in-person voting. The union has questioned for months who had the keys to the box, alleging that the company had the sole ability to access the box.
The union has accused Amazon of having the mailbox installed so that it could spy on workers. If the evidence that Amazon security guards were accessing the box during the election is proven to be true, this would be a massive violation of labor law and would not only back up the union’s claim that workers were intimidated by the mailbox since it made it seem like Amazon was controlling the election, but would also open the company up to claims that they manipulated votes.
What Jackson is alleging “at a minimum creates an appearance of Amazon involvement -- if not an inference of actual tampering -- with ballots,” Wilma Liebman, a former chair of the NLRB under President Obama said via email to Bloomberg on Friday. Liebman told Bloomberg that if the board finds Jackson’s claim credible, it would be more than enough to overturn the election.
Jackson, who was testifying via Zoom after just getting out of the hospital, said that he was leaving work one morning when he saw security guards approach the mailbox. He proceeded to watch them open a large box at the bottom of the mailbox labeled “1P.” While it was dark at the time, Jackson said his headlights illuminated the area, so he was able to clearly see what they were doing. Jackson also testified that Amazon security guards used surveillance cameras to monitor the parking lot, including zooming in on particular cars to read license plates and see who was inside.
“This damning eyewitness testimony of an Amazon security guard opening the famous mailbox (to which the company insisted only USPS had keys) comes as no surprise,” said Representative Andy Levin, Democrat of Michigan. “But the worker’s riveting account of a supervisor asking him ‘off the record’ (right!) whether he was for the union is just as important. As I have suspected since my first visit to Bessemer, Amazon broke the law, and the NLRB will likely come to that conclusion.”
In a statement last month, Amazon denied having access to the mailbox claiming that only the USPS could open it.