Workers at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, who tried unsuccessfully to unionize earlier this year, will likely have another shot at a union election thanks to an order by a regional office of the National Labor Relations Board. The order said the company acted with "flagrant disregard" for certain policies that keep elections fair.
In April, after an aggressive anti-union campaign from Amazon, warehouse workers in Bessemer overwhelmingly voted not to authorize a union. As my colleague Noah Lanard wrote at the time
, people voted not to unionize in part because Amazon provided relatively solid wages and benefits in economically depressed areas. But that wasn't the only reason:
On top of those economic realities, Amazon fought unionization at every turn. It forced employees to attend anti-union meetings on company time, hired union-busting consultants, sent out barrages of texts urging workers to vote no, and launched a website called doitwithoutdues.com.
All of that is legal. We live in a country long wedded to union busting
. But one of Amazon's actions crossed a line.
During the election, Amazon had the Postal Service install a post office in the parking lot to make voting in the union election "convenient, safe and private." Labor organizers disagreed, arguing that the box's location near a security camera--and inside of an Amazon-branded tent--tainted the election. The regional NLRB agreed and granted a do-over.
"Today's decision confirms what we were saying all along--that Amazon's intimidation and interference prevented workers from having a fair say in whether they wanted a union in their workplace," Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union--which the Amazon voters were voting to join--said in a statement. "Amazon workers deserve to have a voice at work, which can only come from a union."
Amazon can still appeal the decision, and a union win in a second vote is far from certain.
Read the full decision here