Earlier this year, workers at the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, voted on whether to unionize. Due to illegal labor practices by Amazon, the vote went against the workers, with more than half voting against unionization. The union organizers claimed illegal labor practices and took their case to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
The NLRB found that Amazon did indeed violate labor laws and ordered that there would be another vote on whether to unionize.
It turns out that Amazon had gone full bore on stopping the unionization by whatever means necessary and pulled almost every dirty trick in the book:
Previously, the NLRB’s hearing shed new light on Amazon’s anti-union campaign during the Bessemer election. One warehouse staffer testified that during mandatory meetings at the facility, managers said the fulfillment center could shut down if staff voted to unionize. Other workers said they were told that the union would waste their dues on fancy vacations and cars.
One key controversy had been over a new mailbox in the warehouse’s private parking lot that Amazon said was installed by the U.S. Postal Service to make voting “convenient, safe and private.” However, the mailbox’s placement inside an Amazon tent right by the workplace prompted some employees to wonder whether the company was trying to monitor the vote.
Postal Service official Jay Smith, who works as a liaison for large clients like Amazon, testified that he was surprised to see the corporate-branded tent around the mailbox because the company appeared to have found a way around his explicit instructions to not place anything physically on the mailbox.
But Smith and other Postal Service officials also testified that no one at Amazon has been provided keys to access the outgoing mail or, in this case, election ballots. A pro-union Amazon worker told the hearing that he saw corporate security officers opening the mailbox.
This is actually a double win for the workers. Not only do they have the benefit of getting to do the vote over, hopefully without any further interference by Amazon, but they also get to do so after just witnessing how much the union can actually do for them.
And in the bigger picture, it can show some reluctant lawmakers just how much the nation needs them to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act) sooner rather than later.