The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) is formally challenging its loss at the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, where employees overwhelmingly voted to reject an organization effort.
The New York Times reports that the union is "accusing the company of corrupting the voting process by intimidating and surveilling workers," and filed "objections to the election with the National Labor Relations Board, which oversaw the voting-by-mail process last month."
However, the Times notes that "many workers said that the union had failed to persuade them of the benefits of organizing and that they were largely satisfied with the pay, benefits and working conditions at Amazon."
The Times provides the following context:
"At the heart of the union’s complaint is a mailbox that Amazon installed in the warehouse parking lot where workers could drop off their ballots. The union said Amazon had brought in the collection box without approval from the labor board. The company also used video cameras that could monitor the workers who dropped off their ballots there and encouraged them to drop the ballots in the box rather than mail them from home, the union said.
"The union said these actions by Amazon had 'created the impression that the collection box was a polling location and that the employer had control over the conduct of the mail ballot election.'
"The union also accused Amazon of other tactics that may have intimidated workers, such as hiring local police to patrol the parking lot area while organizers were outside and pulling possibly pro-union workers out of 'captive audience' meetings that the company held to address the organizing drive among the staff."
Amazon said in a response, "Rather than accepting these employees’ choice, the union seems determined to continue misrepresenting the facts in order to drive its own agenda. We look forward to the next steps in the legal process."
In the challenge is successful, the NLRB then could order another election.
- KC's View:
This isn't just about Alabama, and it isn't even just about Amazon.
The organized labor movement saw this election as a chance to regain momentum lost over the past decade or so, and use it as a foundation from which to organize Amazon, moving on to Walmart, and then using some of that leverage in other negotiations. Losing was a big hit.