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Amazon plans ‘substantial’ objections to historic union vote at New York warehouse

In his file at the National Labor Relations Council, Amazon (AMZN) alleges how the regional office of the independent federal agency that oversaw the election at its Staten Island facility, known as JFK8, “unfairly and improperly facilitated the [Amazon Labor Union’s] victory.”

He claims the agency used an “artificially reduced number” of employees in the voting unit to calculate whether the ALU had garnered enough support to even hold an election. He also claims the agency has delayed investigating what it calls “frivolous” unfair labor practice accusations that it says were “exploited” by the union. And he alleges the agency failed to properly staff polling stations during the election, which ultimately “produced chaos and hour-long queues to vote on the first day of the election, discouraging other workers.” to vote”.

Amazon also describes the alleged misconduct on the part of ALU, the grassroots labor organization established by the establishment’s current and former employees. Among his claims regarding the ALU, he claims the union unlawfully intimidated employees and “threatened violence against critics.”

Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel said in a statement Friday: “Based on the evidence we have seen thus far, as outlined in our objections, we believe the actions of the NLRB and the ALU improperly suppressed and influenced the vote, and we believe the election should be re-run so that a fair and broadly representative vote can take place.”

The Staten Island election marked the first time a group of American workers successfully voted to form a union in the company’s 27-year history. On Thursday, Amazon was granted a two-week extension to file evidence in support of its objections.

In its filing seeking the extension of the NLRB’s regional director, Amazon noted that the installation election “was one of the largest in recent Board history” and said its “objections should be substantial, both in number . . . and scope of conduct.”

Of approximately 8,325 eligible voters, 4,785 votes were counted. There were 2,654 votes in favor of unionization and 2,131 votes against. Another 67 ballots were contested and 17 were voided.

The ALU did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The company first indicated last week that it was considering filing objections over what it claimed was “inappropriate and undue influence” by the NLRB. Kayla Blado, acting director and press secretary of the NLRB, said in a statement to CNN Business last week, “The NLRB is an independent federal agency charged by Congress to enforce national labor relations law. All the NLRB’s enforcement actions against Amazon have been pursuant to this congressional mandate.”
Amazon said last week it was “disappointed” with Staten Island’s results. While Amazon has repeatedly said in statements that its “employees have always had a choice whether or not to join a union,” it also spent $4.3 million last year on anti-union consultants and has used a combination of text messages, on-site signage and mandatory meetings to convince workers to vote against unionization.

Last Thursday, the same day public vote counting began for the Staten Island election, ballots for a reshuffled union election at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama were also counted, but the result remains too close to be announced. There are 416 disputed ballots, which is enough to influence the result. The NLRB is expected to hold a hearing to review the disputed ballots in the coming weeks.

Amazon plans ‘substantial’ objections to historic union vote at New York warehouse
Unlike the effort started in Staten Island, the Bessemer campaign was run in tandem with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, an 85-year-old union. The original election, held a year ago, favored Amazon, but the results were dropped after an NLRB regional manager determined that Amazon had intervened illegally, a decision the company called of “disappointing”.

The RWDSU this week filed objections to the rerun election, arguing that Amazon has again interfered with its employees’ right to vote freely in a fair election and it called on the NLRB regional director to hold a hearing to determine whether the results should be overturned. one more time. The RWSDU alleged that there had been instances of dismissal and retaliation against union supporters, intimidation and surveillance of employees engaged in union organizing activities, and discrepancies with the list of eligible voters provided to the union. The RWSDU also alleged that Amazon enforced new rules to ban unionization, removed pro-union literature and threatened to close the establishment if the union was successful.

“We’ve said from the start that we want our employees’ voices to be heard, and we hope the NLRB counts every valid vote,” Amazon’s Nantel said in a statement on the Bessemer vote.

Amazon plans ‘substantial’ objections to historic union vote at New York warehouse

The RWDSU previously filed several unfair labor practice complaints regarding Amazon’s conduct at the facility. One complaint challenged mandatory group meetings where Amazon representatives told workers their union-busting stance, which the union said violated workers’ rights to refrain from union-related activities.

Although these mandatory meetings are a common tactic similarly used by a number of other employers and legally permitted, the union has asked the NLRB to review the law. On Thursday, NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo released a memo calling on the agency to reconsider its stance on mandatory meetings of this nature.

Amazon, which previously told CNN Business that RWDSU’s complaint was unfounded, declined to comment on Abruzzo’s memo.

The battle over the treatment of workers inside Amazon facilities is widely seen as critical to the future of work in the United States. The company is the second-largest private employer in the country and is known for its emphasis on automation and productivity tracking. His high turnover rates, workplace injuries and heightened activism have also drawn attention to his working conditions in recent years.
At the end of May, Amazon shareholders are expected to have the opportunity to vote on a resolution for an independent audit of working conditions at the company’s warehouses, according to a Reuters report on Thursday.

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