Amazon warehouse workers in Alabama again vote to unify after NLRB orders new elections

A view inside an Amazon fulfillment center. (Photo File GeekWire / Kevin Lisota)

The National Labor Relations Board is calling for a new union election at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Ala., eight months after employees there voted against joining. Department Stores, Wholesale and Retail Union (RWDSU).

The NLRB has officially issued the Decision and Direction of the second election according to an email from RWDSU on Monday. NLRB spokeswoman Kayla Blado confirmed to GeekWire that Area 10 Director Lisa Henderson has ordered a new election to be held.

Unified effort is fell sharply in April last year, with 1,798 voting not to join the union and 738 voting for it at the warehouse facility known as BHM1. The warehouse employs about 6,000 workers.

The failure ended the most serious attempt to unify a portion of the workforce at the tech giant that now employs 1.5 million people worldwide.

But the organizers claimed throughout the process that Amazon managers violated labor laws with anti-union tactics, such as video surveillance ballot boxes. In August, one NLRB hearing officer’s decision that Amazon had stepped outside of authorized guidelines and improperly pressured Bessemer warehouse employees against warehouse consolidation. That official suggested in a report that the election be called again.

“Today’s decision confirms what we have said so far that Amazon’s intimidation and interference prevented workers from having a fair say about whether they wanted a union in their workplace – and as the Regional Director pointed out, that is both unacceptable and illegal,” RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum said in a statement Monday. “Amazon workers deserve a voice in the workplace, which can only come from unions.”

According to RWDSU, the date and method of a new election have yet to be determined.

In a statement to GeekWire, Amazon spokeswoman Kelly Nantel called the NLRB’s decision “disappointing.”

“Our employees always have the choice to join a union or not, and they completely opted out of RWDSU earlier this year,” said Nantel. “It is disappointing that the NLRB has now decided that those votes do not count. As a company, we don’t think unions are the best answer for our employees.”

Nantel added that unions make it difficult for employees to improve their jobs quickly or have their voices heard.

“While we’ve made tremendous progress in key areas like payments and safety, we know there’s a lot we can continue to do better, both at the heart of present and our corporate office, and that is our focus – to work directly with Nantel said.

Amazon workers at Staten Island, NY, recent fulfillment center withdraw the request to hold a union election after not collecting enough signatures from workers.

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