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Union Files Objections to Amazon Vote

RWDSU to NLRB: Set aside results because of employer intimidation

Brian Young's picture
Apr 19, 2021

Throughout February and March workers at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer Alabama voted on whether their warehouse should become the first union facility at Amazon. The workers faced an intense anti-union campaign and ended up voting down the union by an overwhelming margin. However, that anti-union campaign is the focus of a new lawsuit that was filed by the union on Monday.

According to a statement from the union, RWDSU has filed objections to the election and is asking the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to set aside the results of the election. The union claims that the company violated the workers right to vote in a free and fair election; a right that is protected under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act. NLRB rules state that “Results of an election will be set aside if conduct by the employer or the union created an atmosphere of confusion or fear of reprisals and thus interfered with the employees' freedom of choice.” In contesting the election, the union has filed 23 objections which they say both separately and cumulatively constitute grounds to set the results aside.

The union has laid out some of the biggest objections including:

The Installation of a Collection Box: Although the NLRB said that in person voting was too dangerous and that the entire election was to be conducted by mail, the company got the local post office to install a “mailbox” in the warehouse’s parking lot where workers could leave their ballots. The mailbox was removed right after the election. The union contests that the placement of this collection box gave the appearance that the company not the NLRB was controlling the mechanics of the election. This was especially true since the box was under constant surveillance by the company where they could track who was voting. The union also says that the company placed pro-Amazon messaging on the box and pressured workers to bring their ballots to work to drop them off in the box the company provided. The union believes this in violation of the NLRB’s decision to not have an in person collection box.

Threatening Workplace Layoffs and Facility Closure: The union says that Amazon sent workers multiple messages unlawfully threatening loss of business at the facility if workers voted for the union. These threats included telling them that if the union came in there would be significant layoffs or even a full facility closure. It is illegal under the National Labor Relations Act to threaten to close a facility if the union is voted in.

Loss of Pay and Benefits: The company threatened workers telling them that if the union was voted in, they would lose their pay rate, health insurance, time off, and retirement benefits. This was what Tesla and Elon Musk were recently found guilty of by the NLRB. At least two employees told CNBC that they voted no after Amazon threatened to take away benefits and pay if the union was voted in.

Intimidation: As UCOMM previously reported workers were forced to sit in captive-audience meetings where high priced union-busters explained why the workers should vote against the union. When workers spoke up against these claims the pro-union workers were brought to the front, identified, and removed from the room. The union contends that this behavior constituted intimidation against the workers as many felt they were being singled out to be fired after the vote was over.

These are just a few of the major issues that RWDSU noticed during the election. A full list of objections can be found here.

“Amazon has left no stone unturned in its efforts to gaslight its own employees,” RWDSU president Stuart Appelbaum said in a statement Monday. “We won’t let Amazon’s lies, deception and illegal activities go unchallenged, which is why we are formally filing charges against all of the egregious and blatantly illegal actions taken by Amazon during the union vote today.”

The union has asked that the NLRB Regional Director for the Birmingham Alabama area schedule a hearing on the objections. This hearing would allow the union to make their case and the Regional Director would decide if the results should be set aside. If the Regional Director decides in the union’s favor, it is likely that the company will appeal the decision to the full NLRB.

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