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NLRB Recommends Amazon Union Election Results Be Scrapped Over Improprieties

Date: August 3, 2021

According to recommendations from a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Hearing Officer, Amazon improperly pressured Alabama warehouse workers to vote against joining a Union and should hold a new election.

The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) said that “a Hearing Officer for the National Labor Relations Board has recommended that the vote by workers in April to overwhelmingly reject the Union be set aside and that another vote be held in its place. The Hearing Officer determined that Amazon violated labor law.”

The RWDSU also stated that "Workers endured an intensive anti-Union campaign designed by Amazon to intimidate and interfere with their choice on whether or not to form a Union.”

The Union said in a filing in April that Amazon threatened workers with layoffs and even the closing of the warehouse if they Unionized. It also said Amazon fired a pro-Union employee.

Many of the other allegations by the Union revolve around “a mailbox that Amazon installed in the parking lot of the Bessemer, Alabama, warehouse.” It said “the mailbox created the false appearance that Amazon was conducting the election, intimidating workers into voting against the Union. Security cameras in the parking lot could have recorded workers going to the mailbox, giving the impression that workers were being watched by the company and that their votes weren't private.”

The Hearing Officers wrote that Amazon “created the impression that the mailbox was an ‘official’ polling place” by placing a tent around the mailbox and putting up a banner on it that read “speak for yourself, mail your ballot here.” That undermined the election’s integrity.”  

The Hearing Officers also found that also found that Amazon’s distribution of Union-opposition paraphernalia violated labor law.

Workers overwhelmingly voted against forming a Union, with 1,798 rejecting it and 738 voting in favor of it. A total of 3,117 votes were cast, about 53% of the nearly 6,000 workers at the warehouse.

Since this announcement and according to many news outlets, the NLRB, which could not be reached for comment, has not yet issued a final decision, which would typically come two or three weeks after the initial recommendation.

The Union push was the biggest in Amazon's history and only the second time that an organizing effort from within the company had come to a vote.  Despite years of trying, none of Amazon’s warehouse workers in the United States are Union members, even though many of their co-workers in Europe, where Unions are often seen as part of the cultural fabric of the region, are.

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