Amazon pressured Alabama workers and union vote should be redone, labor investigator recommends

An Amazon fulfillment center. (GeekWire file photo)

Amazon stepped outside of acceptable guidelines and put undue pressure on warehouse workers in Alabama to unionize the Bessemer fulfillment warehouse in April.

Efforts by the retail, wholesale and department store union to organize the nearly 6,000 warehouse workers last spring did not garner enough votes to form the union, but organizers claimed throughout the process that Amazon managers were using anti-union tactics against labor laws such as ballot boxes with camera surveillance.

However, the recommendation is not binding. The NLRB report will now be sent to the Regional Working Committee office in Atlanta for final decision.

Stuart Applebaum, president of RWDSU, said the report and recommendation confirm what union organizers have been saying all along: Amazon has encroached upon the rights of its own workers to unionize.

“During the NLRB hearing, we heard compelling evidence of how Amazon tried to illegally disrupt and intimidate workers when they were trying to exercise their right to unionize,” Applebaum said in a statement. “We support the hearing officer’s recommendation that the NLRB put the election results aside and lead a new election.”

An Amazon spokesman stated that a large majority of workers did not want a union in Bessemer and that should prevail.

“Our employees had the chance to be heard at a noisy time when all kinds of voices were pouring into the national debate, and at the end of the day they overwhelmingly voted in favor of a direct connection with their managers and the company.” said a company spokesman.

“Your voice should be heard above all, and we plan to appeal to make sure that happens.”

An NLRB spokesman said the board would not comment on the report.

The election in the camp ended in April with a 2-1 defeat for the union with almost 3,000 votes cast. But in the run-up to and during the elections, efforts to organize Amazon – and management’s apparent antipathy towards unions – attracted national attention.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) And former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams appeared in the city of 26,000. And President Joe Biden was referring directly to the right of workers to organize.

“As President Biden reminded us earlier this year, whether or not to form a union should be the decision of the workers, not the employers,” Applebaum said in a statement. “Amazon’s behavior during the electoral process was despicable. Amazon cheated, they were caught and they are being held accountable. “

In a letter to Amazon shareholders in April after the union election, former CEO and company founder Jeff Bezos admitted the damage to his image caused by the union election campaign.

“Is your chairman comforting the result of the recent union vote in Bessemer? No he does not. I think we have to do a better job for our employees, ”Bezos wrote on April 15th.

“Although the voting results have been one-sided and our direct relationship with employees is strong, I understand that we need a better vision of how we create value for our employees – a vision for their success,” added Bezos.

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