Amazon plans ‘substantial’ objections to historic union vote at New York City warehouse

In his presentation to the National Labor Relations Board, Amazon (AMZN) alleges how the regional office of the independent federal agency that oversaw the election at its Staten Island facility, known as JFK8, “unfairly and inappropriately facilitated the [Amazon Labor Union’s] victory.”

He claims that the agency used an “artificially reduced number” of employees in the voting unit to calculate whether the ALU had garnered enough support to even hold an election. He also claims the agency delayed investigating what he calls “frivolous” unfair labor practice charges that he says were “exploited” by the union. And it alleges that the agency failed to adequately staff the polls during the election, ultimately “producing chaos and hours-long lines to vote on the first day of voting, which discouraged other employees from voting.”

Amazon also outlines alleged misconduct by ALU, the grassroots labor organization started by current and former employees of the facility. Among his claims about ALU, he says the union illegally intimidated employees and “threatened violence against its critics.”

Amazon spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said in a statement Friday: “Based on the evidence we have seen thus far, as set forth in our objections, we believe the actions of the NLRB and ALU improperly suppressed and influenced the vote, And we believe the election should be held again so that a fair and broadly representative vote can be had.”

The Staten Island election marked the first time a group of American workers had successfully voted to form a union in the company’s 27-year history. On Thursday, Amazon was granted a two-week extension to submit evidence to support its objections.

In its filing requesting the extension of the NLRB’s regional director, Amazon noted that the election at the facility “was one of the largest in the Board’s recent history” and said that “its objections are expected to be substantial, both in the number… .and extent of the conduct.”

Of approximately 8,325 eligible voters, 4,785 votes were counted. There were 2,654 votes in favor of unionization and 2,131 votes against. Another 67 ballots were challenged and 17 were annulled.

The ALU did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The company first indicated last week that it was exploring the possibility of filing objections for what it claimed was “improper and undue influence” by the NLRB. Kayla Blado, acting director and press secretary for the NLRB, said in a statement to CNN Business last week: “The NLRB is an independent federal agency that has been charged by Congress with enforcing the National Labor Relations Act. All of the NLRB’s enforcement actions against Amazon have been consistent with that mandate from Congress.”
Amazon said last week that it was “disappointed” with the results from Staten Island. While Amazon has repeatedly said in statements that its “employees have always had a choice whether or not to join a union,” it also spent $4.3 million last year on anti-union consultants and used a combination of text messaging, on-site signage and mandatory meetings to convince workers to vote against unionization.

Last Thursday, the same day public vote counting began for the Staten Island election, ballots for a union election were also counted at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, but the result remains too close to announce. There are 416 contested ballots, which is enough to influence the result. The NLRB is expected to hold a hearing to review the contested ballots in the coming weeks.

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In contrast to the Staten Island start-up effort, Bessemer’s campaign was run in conjunction with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Stores Union, an 85-year-old union of workers. The original election, held a year ago, favored Amazon, but the results were thrown out after an NLRB regional director determined that Amazon interfered unlawfully, a decision the company called “disappointing.”

This week, the RWDSU filed objections to the rerun election, arguing that Amazon again interfered with its employees’ right to vote freely in a fair election and asked that the NLRB’s regional director hold a hearing to determine whether the results should be overturned. . one more time. The RWSDU alleged that there were cases of dismissal and retaliation from union supporters, intimidation and surveillance of employees involved in organizing activities, and discrepancies with the list of eligible voters provided to the union. The RWSDU also alleged that Amazon applied new rules to ban the organization, removed pro-union literature, and threatened to close the facility if the union was successful.

“We’ve said from the beginning that we want our employees’ voices to be heard, and we expect the NLRB to count every valid vote,” Amazon’s Nantel said in a statement about the Bessemer vote.

Amazon union vote in Alabama too close to call

The RWDSU previously filed several unfair labor practice complaints about Amazon’s conduct at the facility. One complaint objected to required group meetings where Amazon representatives conveyed their anti-union stance to workers, which the union said violated workers’ right to refrain from organizing related activities.

While these mandatory meetings are a common tactic used in a similar manner by several other employers and one that is legally permissible, the union asked the NLRB to review the law. On Thursday, NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo issued a memo asking the agency to reconsider her position on mandatory meetings of this nature.

Amazon, which previously told CNN Business that RWDSU’s complaint is without merit, declined to comment on the Abruzzo memo.

The battle over the treatment of workers inside Amazon facilities is seen as central to the future of work in the United States. The company is the second largest private employer in the country and is known for its heavy emphasis on automation and productivity tracking. Their high turnover rates, on-the-job injuries and increased worker activism have also drawn a lot of attention to their workplace conditions in recent years.
Amazon shareholders are expected to have a chance to vote on a resolution for an independent audit of working conditions at the company’s warehouse in late May, according to a Reuters report on Thursday.

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