The Washington Post reports that Amazon's lawyers have filed a motion requesting that next Monday's hearing before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), at which it will formally object to a unionization victory at one of its warehouses on Staten Island, be closed to the public.
According to the story, "NLRB hearings are typically held in person and open to the public. But Amazon argues in its motion that because the hearing is being held on Zoom, it makes it difficult to know if witnesses who aren’t supposed to be able to observe the proceedings are in attendance, or if the hearing is being recorded and shared with those witnesses."
The Post goes on to point out that Amazon "did not immediately respond to questions about whether members of the media would be permitted to attend the hearing if the company’s motion is granted.
"The motion, which requests that the general public be barred from attending, specifies the parties that Amazon say should be allowed to attend the full proceeding, including witnesses and legal teams, does not explicitly mention members of the media. It describes media coverage of the union election in Staten Island as 'unprecedented'."
Seth Goldstein, the lawyer representing the Amazon Labor Union, tells the Post, "“I’ve never heard of this happening before. This is fantasy … It again shows that Amazon is out of touch with the importance of transparency so that everybody understands what is happening."
- KC's View:
The irony, of course, is the the Washington Post is owned by Amazon's founder-chairman Jeff Bezos, and its slogan, displayed prominently on its front page, is "Democracy dies in darkness."
Now, let's be clear. Bezos' Post ownership is a private investment, separate from his role at Amazon. (And, to be fair, Bezos has been hands-off in terms of editorial coverage.) But I'm amazed that nobody at Amazon or on its legal team realized that their legal position would contradict that of one of the nation's great newspapers, which is owned by the man who remains Amazon's public face. The disconnect is just too easy to point out.
Not being a union organizer nor a labor lawyer, I have no idea how the NLRB might rule on this. And I'll concede that the use of Zoom technology complicates some of the issues, but it doesn't totally change them.
For me, I believe in transparency. I believe that democracy dies in darkness. I believe that, as Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said, "Sunlight is the best disinfectant." So I hope that the NLRB is able to keep this hearing public, and let the chips fall where they may.