The Labor board is ordering a do-over in Amazon’s stock union election

The Amazon logo on the side of a multi-story window.
Enlarge / An Amazon warehouse in Germany on April 2, 2020.

A regional official at the National Labor Relations Board has called for a new union election in Amazon’s Bessemer, Alabama meeting center following recommendations released in August by a hearing consultant. The Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU), which seeks to represent workers in the Bessemer warehouse, filed 23 objections challenging the fairness of the election shortly after the votes were counted back in April.

No date has been set for the new election, and Amazon can still appeal the decision to the full National Labor Relations Board.

The decision to print a new election depends primarily on a mailbox that Amazon installed in the warehouse parking lot to collect ballots. According to the NLRB report (PDF), the mailbox was installed without the NRLB’s approval, giving the impression that the box was being monitored and that Amazon, not the NLRB, was making the choice. Amazon also installed a tent over the mailbox with Amazon’s anti-union campaign messages “printed on at least one side”, and the company conducted “mandatory small group meetings” where it provided anti-union campaign materials to employees.

The election, which began on 8 February 2021, was set aside because the Danish Working Environment Authority found that the employer interfered in the employees’ exercise of a free and reasoned choice by creating the impression of irregularities in the election procedure due to problems with the installation of a mailbox without for the main entrance and in case of improper voting the support of the staff during mandatory meetings. Therefore, a new election will be held in accordance with the terms of this Executive Order on Second Election. All those entitled to vote should understand that the National Labor Relations Act, as amended, gives them the right to cast their vote as they see fit and protects them in the exercise of that right, free from interference by either party.

The initial union election at the Bessemer warehouse was held in February and March 2021, and the votes were counted in early April. The final count was not very close, with 738 votes for one union and 1,798 votes against; a further 505 controversial ballots would not have affected the outcome in one way or another.

Amazon was strongly opposed to the union formation of the Bessemer warehouse, and a successful union among its workers could encourage other Amazon employees to organize. That Amazon Labor Union, an organization independent of existing unions like RWDSU, is currently seeking to assemble Amazon’s JFK8 warehouse in New York City.

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