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Amazon interfered in union vote, says US labour official

A US National Labor Relations Board official said the retail giant pressured workers to vote against unionisation in an April vote.

An officer from the US National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has claimed that Amazon interfered with a union election held by workers in Alabama earlier this year and recommended that a new election be held.

The NLRB has not yet released the officer’s recommendation, but the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) released a statement saying the recommendation was that the results of the original vote be set aside.

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The recommendation comes following a milestone unionisation vote held in April, which saw warehouse workers in Bessemer, Alabama, reject joining the RWDSU.

The vote drew international attention as it would have been the first unionisation of Amazon warehouse workers in the US and the campaign received support from figures such as Bernie Sanders and the Teamsters Union.

The RWDSU filed objections with the NLRB following the vote, claiming “illegal misconduct” on the part of the e-commerce giant.

RWDSU president Stuart Appelbaum said in a statement yesterday (2 August): “Throughout the NLRB hearing, we heard compelling evidence how Amazon tried to illegally interfere with and intimidate workers as they sought to exercise their right to form a union.

“We support the hearing officer’s recommendation that the NLRB set aside the election results and direct a new election … Amazon’s behaviour throughout the election process was despicable. Amazon cheated, they got caught, and they are being held accountable.”

A spokesperson for Amazon, said: “Our employees had a chance to be heard during a noisy time when all types of voices were weighing into the national debate, and at the end of the day, they voted overwhelmingly in favour of a direct connection with their managers and the company. Their voice should be heard above all else, and we plan to appeal to ensure that happens.”

The NLRB officer’s initial recommendation will now move to the organisation’s regional director in Atlanta, which oversaw the election, to issue a ruling. If the regional director upholds the recommendations, the April election results may be set aside and a new election would be called.

The final ruling is likely to take several weeks.

None of Amazon’s warehouse workers in the US are union members and labour activists have been campaigning on their behalf for years. The Teamsters Union voted in June to prioritise organising efforts for Amazon delivery drivers.

Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea joined Silicon Republic in 2021 as Careers reporter, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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