A preliminary assessment by the National Employment Relations Board (NLRB) has recommended that workers at Amazon’s warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, hold new elections to determine whether they would join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Association (RWDSU). The recommendation comes from the hearing officer appointed to the case, and is only a preliminary ruling, but still gives the union a surprising victory in the battle that many of the labor movement had lost.
Employees of the Amazon Service Center in Bessemer, Alabama, did not vote for the alliance in April over a 2: 1 margin. But after the outcome, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Association (RWDSU) claimed that Amazon had contributed to the illegal driving and appealed to the NLRB to annul the result. RWDSU in particular raised questions A USPS mailbox installed in the parking area of the refill center while driving, which the federation claimed gave Amazon inappropriate access to ballot papers sent by mail.
RWDSU’s loss opened the door for other unions to announce plans to unite Amazon employees. June 24 Teamsters announced a nationwide campaign to organize Amazon’s sprawling workforce. The groups committed to using “all the necessary resources” to make the campaign a success.
Now it looks like RWDSU is getting a new opportunity. “Throughout the NLRB consultation, we heard convincing evidence of Amazon trying to illegally harass and intimidate employees in their efforts to exercise their right to form a union,” RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum said in a statement. “We support the Hearing Officer’s recommendation that the NLRB overturn the election results and direct the new elections … Amazon’s conduct throughout the election process was despicable. Amazon betrayed them, they got caught and they are held accountable. “
Amazon did not respond immediately to the request for comment.
The recommendation of the Hearing Officer is only a preliminary assessment of the allegation and does not in itself have the force of res judicata. A full decision will only come when the acting regional director makes a decision on the matter, which is unlikely to happen in weeks. The parties still have the possibility to make exceptions in the interim.
As the case progresses, Amazon’s labor issues have spread far beyond Bessemer. In June, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters voted to prioritize the organization of efforts Amazon for delivery carriers and will create a task force focusing on the company’s operations over the next five years. “Amazon workers are demanding safer and better working conditions,” said the project manager at the time, “and with today’s resolution, we will activate the full force of our union to support them.”