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The recent defeat of a unionization vote at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, could be in question with reports that Amazon had access to a mailbox the premises used to collect ballots.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on Friday heard testimony that "Amazon security guards used keys to open the mailbox, which was located near the entrance of the facility in Bessemer, Alabama.

"The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which lost the election last month, has accused Amazon of having the mailbox installed so it could spy on workers. Even just the impression of election surveillance by an employer can influence the vote’s outcome, so the hearing is focusing largely on what workers witnessed during the election … Amazon has denied an ulterior motive, saying it asked the U.S. Postal Service to install the mailbox in a bid to boost turnout."

The story notes that "Amazon employees voted 1,798 to 738 against joining the union … The labor board has the authority to invalidate election results in response to conduct that could have changed the outcome and prevented employees from making a free choice about whether to unionize."

KC's View:

If indeed it is true that Amazon had keys to a US Postal Service mailbox, and then actually opened it at any time, it strikes me as being criminally stupid.  (Isn't it illegal for anyone other a postal employee to break into a US mailbox, which is actually federal property?)

It also is just plain stupid because it casts a pall over Amazon's entire argument - that people are better off without a union, and that a legitimate vote would bear out that opinion.

Someone needs to have their head handed to them.

I actually hope there's another vote - one that is fair, clean, transparent and unquestionable.