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NLRB Challenges Amazon CEO's Comments on Unionization

A building with an amazon sign in front of it.

​Amazon CEO Andy Jassy's interview statements on unionization at the company violated labor law, according to a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) complaint filed Oct. 26. Amazon has denied any wrongdoing. We've gathered articles on the news from SHRM Online and other media outlets.

Jassy's Comments

In one interview, Jassy said employees who were represented by a union would be less empowered in the workplace, making it more difficult for them to have direct relationships with management and making things much slower and more bureaucratic. In another interview, he said employees were better off without a union.

(The Washington Post)

Complaint's Allegations and Amazon's Response

The NLRB maintains that Jassy's comments interfered with, restrained and coerced employees in the exercise of rights guaranteed by the National Labor Relations Act.

Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel said, "These allegations are completely without merit, and the comments in question are clearly protected by express language of the National Labor Relations Act and decades of NLRB precedent. The comments lawfully explain Amazon's views on unionization and the way it could affect the ability of our employees to deal directly with their managers, and they began with a clear recognition of our employees' right to organize and in no way contained threats of reprisal."


Timing of Comments

Jassy's comments followed a union's victory at a Staten Island, N.Y., Amazon warehouse. Safety, higher wages, more paid breaks and more vacation were at issue at the facility. The union's success at the JFK8 Amazon warehouse was "extremely significant," said Dan Altchek, an attorney with Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr in Baltimore and New York City.

(SHRM Online)

Union Loses Election Near Albany, N.Y.

Nonetheless, subsequent union elections at Amazon have failed. Most recently, Amazon overwhelmingly defeated an attempt to unionize a facility near Albany, N.Y., by a vote of 406 to 206. The union was asking for higher wages and safer working conditions. The company recently raised the starting pay at the facility from $15.70 per hour to $17.

(SHRM Online)

California Workers Withdrew Petition for Unionization

Workers at an Amazon facility in California have withdrawn their petition to unionize with the Amazon Labor Union (ALU). Kayla Blado, a spokesperson for the NLRB, confirmed on Oct. 25 that the petition for a union election at the ONT8 facility in Moreno Valley, Calif., had been withdrawn. ALU President Chris Smalls downplayed the significance of the withdrawal, promising another petition would be refiled.

Since the win at JFK8 in Staten Island, the ALU hasn't succeeded with organizing efforts at other facilities. In addition, Amazon has declined to recognize or meet with the union at the JFK8 warehouse and continues to challenge the union's election win in Staten Island.

(CNN Business)


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