What’s next for Amazon union election in Alabama after do-over is ordered

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The rare election do-over was called by the NLRB.

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In a rare move, the National Labor Relations Board has ordered a union election do-over for Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer, Alabama.

A date for the second vote has yet to be set, but a new union election is on the way as the labor movement has gained new steam in recent months, given the unique market conditions and workplace conditions seen in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Actively motivated. ,

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During an early election in April, Amazon warehouse workers voted overwhelmingly against forming a union at the Bessemer Warehouse, despite lawmakers and even President Joe Biden’s high-profile support for unionization at the time.

The order for a new election will remain in place until Amazon makes a request for review with the NLRB, which the board can refuse (allowing another union election to go ahead) or grant (which will allow a second election). reverse the order). It is also yet to be determined whether the do-over vote will take place in person or by mail.

The re-run decision comes after objections to a preliminary vote last April that were filed by a retail, wholesale and department store union seeking to represent workers.

At the core of the union’s objections was Amazon’s installation of a postal service box outside the warehouse, which they said was intended to make voting easier and improve voting, but the union argued that Amazon oversaw the election. .

NLRB regional director Lisa Henderson wrote in her decision calling for a second election, “The employer’s major disregard for the Board’s distinctive mail-ballot process compromised the authority of the Board and made a free and fair election impossible. “

“By installing a postal mailbox at the key employee entrance, the employer essentially hijacked the process and gave a strong impression that it controls the process,” Henderson said. “This dangerous and unfair message to employees destroys confidence in board procedures and the credibility of election results.”

RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum welcomed the board’s decision in a statement, saying it “reaffirms what we were saying all along – that Amazon’s threats and interference prevented workers from saying whether they Want a union in your workplace.”

“Amazon workers deserve a voice for work that can only come from a union,” he said.

Amazon spokeswoman Kelly Nantel called the decision “disappointing” in a statement, adding that the company believes in the benefits of direct relationships with employees without a union in the middle.

“Our employees always have a choice of whether or not to join a union, and they decided not to join the RWDSU earlier this year. It is disappointing that the NLRB has now decided that those votes will be counted. Shouldn’t be,” Nantel said. “As a company, we don’t think unions are the best answer for our employees. Every day we empower people to find ways to improve their jobs, and when they do we’re going to make those changes.” want to do it quickly.”

“That type of continual improvement is hard to do quickly and deftly with unions in the middle. The benefits of direct relationships between managers and employees cannot be overstated – these relationships allow every employee’s voice to be heard, not just a matter of concern. That only voices a select few,” Nantel said. “While we have made a lot of progress in important areas like pay and security, we know there are a lot of things we can do better both in our fulfillment centers and in our corporate offices, and that is our focus – to get things done directly. With our employees to keep getting better every day.”

Union membership has declined in recent decades, falling to 10.8% in 2020 among salaried and paid workers in the US, According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, In 1983, the first year the BLS collected this data, the figure was 20.1%.

Despite recession figures, approval for labor unions in the US is at its highest level since 1965, according to gallup data, Some 68% of Americans approve of labor unions in 2021, the highest recorded by Gallup since the 71% mark in 1965.

Some labor economists attribute this gap between support for unions and union membership rates to growing employer resistance to unionization and outdated labor laws that make it difficult to organize in the workplace.

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