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A U.S. Labor Commission official suggested that due to concerns that the technology giant would improperly affect workers, the union vote held at the Amazon warehouse in Alabama should be reopened.
After a campaign that attracted international attention, employees at the Bessemer town factory voted against the formation of a union by an overwhelming majority in April, with 1,798 votes to 738 votes. Ballots are mailed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
This is the first union vote held at an Amazon factory in the United States, and it is considered a breakthrough moment for labor organized by the state.
After the results were announced, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) immediately filed an appeal, accusing Amazon of illegally undermining the union.
A person familiar with the findings said that Monday’s National Labor Relations Committee hearing officials supported the union’s views and suggested that the committee’s regional director in Atlanta ordered a re-election.
“Amazon’s behavior throughout the election process is despicable,” said Stuart Appelbaum, chairman of RWDSU. “Amazon cheated, they were caught, and they are being held accountable.”
The NLRB did not respond to a request for comment on Monday. The NLRB has previously stated that the final decision on the re-voting may take several weeks to finalize. During this period, all parties can submit objections for consideration by regional officials.
If district officials support the hearing officer’s recommendation—which is typical—Amazon can appeal to the NLRB in Washington.
Amazon said in a statement that it is ready to do so, and that it opposes any move to conduct a second vote, which may be held in person this time if the coronavirus infection rate is adequately controlled.
Amazon said: “During the noisy period when all kinds of voices are affecting the national debate, our employees have a chance to be heard.” “In the end, they voted by an overwhelming majority to establish direct contact with their managers and the company.”
Amazon said: “Their voice should be above all else, and we plan to call to ensure that this happens.”
It is understood that the hearing officer’s conclusion focused on the use of a dedicated mailbox in the warehouse parking lot. The mailbox was surrounded by a tent with pro-Amazon information. The union argued that this gave workers the impression that their votes were monitored.
E-mail letters obtained during the appeal process showed that Amazon executives put pressure on U.S. Postal Service employees to install mailboxes as soon as possible in order to prepare for voting in a timely manner.
One Amazon manager, Becky Moore, wrote that the mailbox installation was a “very compelling Dave Clark project”, referring to the company’s global consumer head and directly reporting to the then CEO Jeff Bezos reports.
Many employees’ work permits stated that they did not believe that Amazon would leave their mailboxes undisturbed, even though the company said it was unable to access outgoing mail.
“Amazon says that only the post office can use it, but that’s not the case,” said Serena Wallace, a worker at the 855,000-square-foot factory.
The union also stated that if the warehouse becomes a union shop, the information that workers get at the mandatory meeting is inaccurate.
After voting in April, Bezos stated that Amazon will now strive to become “the best employer on earth.”