Amazon union election should be re-run, labor official says – Press-Enterprise


By Spencer Soper, Matt Day and Josh Eidelson | Bloomberg

A federal official has recommended overturning the results of a union election at an Amazon.com warehouse in Alabama, giving the retail union an opportunity to reverse its defeat, according to people familiar with the issue.

After losing the election in April, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union appealed the outcome to the National Labor Relations Board, setting in motion a contentious hearing in May that was presided over by NLRB hearing officer Kerstin Myers.

The union has accused Amazon of making anti-union threats, firing an employee for distributing union cards and pressuring workers to cast their votes in a mailbox the company had installed in a tent on its property, in view of surveillance cameras. Amazon denied any wrongdoing.

Myers has recommended the election be run again, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the recommendation isn’t yet public. The recommendation will be considered by a labor board regional director and Amazon has the right to appeal the ruling to an NLRB panel in Washington. If a new election is called, it could happen later this year.

Stuart Appelbaum, RWDSU president, said the union presented “compelling evidence” that the e-commerce company sought to interfere in the election.

“The question of whether or not to have a union is supposed to be the workers’ decision and not the employer’s,” Appelbaum said Monday in a statement. “Amazon cheated, they got caught, and they are being held accountable.”

Amazon representatives didn’t immediately comment on the news of the ruling.

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The ruling is a blow for Amazon, but there’s no guarantee the union will prevail a second time round. While the pandemic hampered the RWDSU’s first campaign, union membership was a tough sell in Bessemer, Alabama, where Amazon’s starting wage of $15 an hour goes a lot further than it does in bigger cities. The company also provides health benefits not offered by many local employers.

Moreover, Amazon can be expected to wage as fierce a campaign as it did last time — holding mandatory “information sessions” with employees, where managers argue that a union won’t necessarily improve wages and benefits. Such direct appeals likely helped the company win handily last time. Of the more than 3,000 ballots cast, Amazon garnered 1,798 no votes to 738 yes votes in favor of the union. While federal officials set aside 505 contested ballots — most of them disputed by Amazon, according to the union– there weren’t enough to change the result.



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