Bessemer, Alabama warehouse workers will likely get a second union vote because of Amazon's efforts to have a USPS ballot box installed just outside of the Bessemer warehouse facility during the mail-in vote, as well as other violations of union vote rules, according to an NLRB ruling published Tuesday morning.
While union organizers, represented by the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union, lost the first vote by more than a 2:1 margin, a second election will be scheduled and held unless Amazon successfully appeals the ruling. Though Amazon is the country's second-largest private employer, no unionization effort at the company has ever been successful.
NLRB hearing officer Kerstin Meyers sustained seven of the RWDSU's objections to Amazon's conduct during the months-long mail-in union election in early 2021, and said that those seven objections were severe enough to merit a second election.
In one objection filed by the RWDSU, the hearing officer ruled that the company's distribution of materials like "vote no" tags at small meetings and in the presence of managers could reasonably make a worker feel like Amazon was trying to determine whether they supported the union effort. Nearly all of the members of the union bargaining unit were subject to this misconduct because the meetings were mandatory and conducted an untold number of times, according to Meyers.
The other six objections sustained by Meyers all related to Amazon's efforts to have a USPS mailbox installed at the entrance to the facility. "The Employer's conduct in causing this generic mail receptacle to be installed usurped the National Labor Relations Board's (Board or NLRB) exclusive role in administering Union elections. Notwithstanding the Union's substantial margin of defeat, the Employer's unilateral decision to create, for all intents and purposes, an onsite collection box for NLRB ballots destroyed the laboratory conditions and justifies a second election," Meyers wrote in her ruling.
Amazon plans to appeal the ruling. "Our employees had a chance to be heard during a noisy time when all types of voices were weighing into the national debate, and at the end of the day, they voted overwhelmingly in favor of a direct connection with their managers and the company," an Amazon spokesperson told Protocol via email. "Their voice should be heard above all else, and we plan to appeal to ensure that happens."