Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

State

Federal official’s report says Amazon interfered with union vote

The National Labor Relations Board hearing officer said Amazon’s placement of a mailbox outside the facility to collect ballots “tainted the election.”

(STOCK PHOTO)

Amazon interfered with the union vote at its Bessemer facility by having a ballot collection mailbox installed outside the building and in view of security cameras, according to a federal official who recommends a new vote.

“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,” wrote National Labor Relations Board hearing officer Kirsten Meyers in her 61-page report, filed Monday.

Workers at the Bessemer fulfillment center voted 1,798 to 738 against unionizing, but objections were quickly filed.

One of the largest objections by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union was that Amazon, without prior approval from the NLRB, convinced the U.S. Postal Service to install a mail collection box near the entrance of the facility, erected a tent around it encouraging workers to drop off their ballots inside, where security cameras could record who entered and exited. 

“The Union alleges the Employer’s tracking and polling of eligible voters created the impression that the secrecy of the ballot was compromised,” the report states.

Brain Palmer, a senior manager with Amazon’s public policy team in Washington D.C., emailed Linda Mercer, the USPS strategic account manager, on Jan. 26 and said the mail box to be located outside the store had been escalated to “a priority at the highest level of the [USPS]” and it “must get done,” the report reads.

“According to Palmer’s January 27, 2021, response, this issue was of, “utmost importance to [Amazon’s] senior leadership,” the report states.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

After the mailbox was installed Amazon erected a sign on the tent surrounding it that read “speak for yourself, mail your ballot here.”

Meyers wrote of her finding on the mailbox objection that the box was placed “at a location that reasonably appeared to be within the viewing field of the Employer’s multiple security surveillance cameras that so tainted the election that a second election is necessary.”

“Over 2,000 employees did not vote in the election, a sufficient number to affect the results of the election,” Meyers wrote. “While it is unknown why these employees refrained from voting, there is, at the very least, the possibility that the Employer’s misconduct influenced some of these 2,000 eligible voters.”

Meyers, however, did not find enough evidence to support the union’s allegation that Amazon had caused a change in the timing of a traffic light at the main entrance to interfere with the union’s ability to communicate with workers.

Amazon around September 17, 2020, before the union’s campaign began, requested a traffic study of that entrance in anticipation of increased workers during the company’s peak season, the report states. 

“There is no evidence that the Jefferson County official was influenced by the Union’s campaign, or that the Employer initiated the traffic study to interfere with the Petitioner’s ability to communicate with employees,” Meyers wrote.

The NLRB’s acting regional director is to review Meyers recommendations and issue her decision, which could take several weeks, according to NLRB.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.
Written By

Eddie Burkhalter is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or reach him via Twitter.

DIG DEEPER

State

The official said Amazon's anti-union tactics interfered with workers' rights. A final decision could take several weeks.

Opinion

"The list of problems with this proposal goes on and on and, although the proposal appears to be at a dead end now, it...

Opinion

"Ending the legislative session with an opportunity missed is not just a benign lack of action."

State

Organizers said they "have set the tone that the labor movement is alive right now, that Black Lives Matter is alive right now."