Amazon meddled with a union election, US labour watchdog says
E-commerce giant Amazon has meddled with a union election by not ensuring ballot privacy and handing out paraphernalia that discouraged organising, according to the US labour watchdog.
The National Labour Relations Board (NLRB) had been investigating a number of alleged illegal actions during Amazon’s union drive.
In its latest report, the NLRB issued recommendations that Amazon illegally used a ballot mail dropbox instead of a ballot box to squash a union drive in Bessemer, Alabama.
However, the NRLB is yet to issues its final decision – which could overturn the results.
In April, workers at Amazon’s fulfilment centre in Bessemer voted to not unionise by a more than 2-1 margin after a year of campaigning.
During the vote, a “privacy tent” – referred to as the CBU – was set up so workers could make their votes. But the report suggested that the privacy measure failed to work as intended.
“It is clear that absent the tent, employees had reason to believe that the Employer could observe which employees accessed the CBU and/or used the box to deposit ballots,” the report said.
“Employees believed that the employer had cameras that were tracking, at the very least, which employees entered the CBU tent.”
An Amazon spokesperson said that it will appeal to ensure its employee’s votes mattered.
“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,” the spokesperson said.
“Their voice should be heard above all else, and we plan to appeal to ensure that happens.”
NLRB’s investigation was sparked by accusations from the Retail, Warehouse and Department Store Union (RWDSU) that the e-commerce giant pressured the Unites States Postal Service (USPS) to install a dropbox after the LNRB denied a request for a ballot box.
President of RWDSU, Stuart Applebaum, said: “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.
“Amazon’s behaviour throughout the election process was despicable. Amazon cheated, they got caught, and now they’re being held accountable.”