NLRB Officer Calls for New Union Election at Amazon Warehouse

Allen Smith, J.D. By Allen Smith, J.D. August 3, 2021

​Amazon should hold a new union election in Bessemer, Ala., giving the union drive at a warehouse new life, according to an Aug. 2 recommendation from a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) hearing officer.

We've gathered articles on the news from SHRM Online and other outlets.

Amazon Overwhelmingly Defeated Union Drive

The recommendation arises from the election that ended in April with Amazon warehouse workers rejecting unionization by a more than 2-to-1 margin. The recommendation will move to the NLRB's regional director in Atlanta to issue a ruling. If the regional director upholds the recommendation, the election result would be set aside and a new election would be held. Amazon noted that the workers "overwhelmingly" opposed unionization, a spokesman said in a statement. "Their voice should be heard above all else and we plan to appeal to ensure that happens," he said.

(The Washington Post)

Union Objected to Amazon's Conduct During the Union Vote

The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) objected to Amazon's conduct during the vote. The RWDSU claimed that workers endured an intensive anti-union campaign designed by the company to intimidate and interfere with their choice on whether to form a union.


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Placement of Mailbox in Warehouse's Parking Lot

The U.S. Postal Service placed a new mailbox in the Bessemer, Ala., warehouse's parking lot to make voting "convenient, safe and private," according to Amazon. The mailbox's placement beneath an Amazon tent by the warehouse made some workers wonder if the company was monitoring the union vote. It was the installation of the mailbox, "at a location that reasonably appeared to be within the viewing field of the employer’s multiple security surveillance cameras that so tainted the election that a second election is necessary," the hearing officer stated.


Workers' Concerns

Workers in the warehouse spend long hours on their feet picking, packaging and shipping items as quickly as they can. Their days reportedly are dictated by algorithms that survey every move and dole out punishments when targets aren't met or workers go over their allotted time for a task. Some workers have lodged complaints about excessive heat in the warehouse, which is one of more than 100 fulfillment centers across the nation.


Amazon's Rationale for Its Standards

An Amazon spokeswoman said that, "like most companies, we have performance expectations for every Amazonian, be it a corporate employee or fulfillment center associate, and we measure actual performance against those expectations." She said performance is "measured and evaluated over a long period of time," and "we support people who are not performing to the levels expected with dedicated coaching to help them improve." She added that workers may "grab a snack, water or use the toilet whenever needed," though she didn't address complaints that workers are penalized for doing so.

(The Verge)

What Was the Significance of the Amazon Workers' Unionization Drive?

Union campaigners at Amazon have stated that they viewed the campaign in Bessemer, Ala., as a prelude to efforts directed at other companies, said Marty Martenson and James Taylor, attorneys with Martenson, Hasbrouck & Simon in Atlanta, in an e-mail. Union leaders claim that Amazon engaged in union-busting tactics while opposing the unionization drive. But legal experts say Amazon has acted the same as any other company resisting unionization.

(SHRM Online)



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