Amazon workers in Alabama to vote on unionization again in February

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Employees at Amazon’s warehouses in Bessemer, Alabama, will soon begin voting on whether to form a union, a year after the massive unionization effort failed amid controversy over the e-commerce giant’s tactics .

The ballots will be mailed on February 4 and the votes will begin to be counted in March. 28, the National Labor Relations Council announced on Tuesday.

Amazon workers previously overwhelmingly rejected an organizing effort in the warehouse last year, but the NLRB called for a new vote after finding that Amazon had inappropriately interfered with that election. An NLRB official specifically cited Amazon’s placement of an unmarked U.S. Postal Service letterbox in front of the warehouse just after the vote began, writing that Amazon “essentially hijacked the process and left a strong impression that he was in control of the process “.

The rejection of union organizing efforts by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union last year was a blow to efforts to organize Amazon, which is America’s second-largest private employer. It was one of the first major such efforts in years and gained national attention, including from President Joe Biden, who tweeted a video last year saying workers should be able to make their decisions. without corporate pressure.

More than 5,800 workers were eligible to vote and rejected unionization by more than 2-1.

RWDSU raised concerns in last year’s vote over the mailbox the company placed by the warehouse, along with other concerns that the company unfairly influenced the outcome. .

Amazon fought hard against the union, including posting leaflets in workers’ toilets and sending text messages.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday. The company defended the first election and previously said it was “disappointing that the NLRB has now decided that those votes shouldn’t count.”

The RWDSU had called for an in-person election for the vote, and expressed disappointment on Tuesday that its demands to the agency were not passed.

“Amazon’s misconduct in the first union election so marred the result that the NLRB overturned the results and held a second election for workers in Bessemer, Alabama,” the union said in a statement. “We are deeply concerned that the ruling does not adequately prevent Amazon from continuing its reprehensible behavior in a new election.”

Last month, Amazon reached a separate agreement with the NLRB and agreed to facilitate the unionization of workers in its warehouses by posting notices and allowing certain gatherings.

The workforce in Amazon warehouses has a high turnover rate due to the nature of the job, and many new employees are likely to vote this time around.

The NLRB cited Amazon’s mailbox as one of the reasons for ordering a revocation, and also noted that Amazon was pressuring workers to display anti-union paraphernalia. This “could reasonably cause an employee to perceive that the employer was trying to discern their support for or against the union,” one official wrote in the decision.

Amazon was also ordered to post a notice on Bessemer premises stating, in part, that the previous election had been called off “because the National Labor Relations Board found that the employer had obstructed the exercise by employees of a free and motivated choice by creating the appearance of irregularity in the electoral procedure due to problems relating to the installation of a letterbox outside the main entrance and by improperly voting support employees at mandatory meetings.

In other union-related news this week, a second Starbucks store near Buffalo voted to unionize, one of several stores in the coffee chain seeking to unionize workers. Last month, Starbucks employees voted to unionize employees at a downtown Buffalo store, making that store the first to unionize in Starbucks’ 50-year history. The results of the vote at a third store in this region remained undecided.

This article contains information from The Associated Press.

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