National Labor Relations Board calls for new union vote on Amazon Alabama site

A National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) hearing counselor determined that Amazon substantially interfered with an organizing drive at its BHM1 processing center in Bessemer, Alabama, earlier this year. According to statements released by Amazon and the Retailers, Warehouses and Department Stores Union (RWDSU), the Federal Labor Council has recommended a new vote.

Last spring, the RWDSU campaign to be recognized as the bargaining representative of more than 5,800 Amazon warehouse workers suffered a massive defeat. Despite extensive media coverage and public support from national officials in the Democratic and Republican parties, including President Joseph Biden, only 738 Amazon workers voted in favor of RWDSU, or about 13 percent of the total membership.

Bessemer warehouse on the eve of the union vote (WSWS Media)

The RWDSU appealed the vote, alleging that Amazon used manipulative tactics to interfere with the electoral process. Its main complaint is that Amazon ordered the installation of a mailbox on company property to collect votes. According to the RWDSU, this act gave the impression that the company would participate in the counting of the ballots.

According to NLRB official Kerstin Meyers, “the behavior of Amazon, which installed this generic mailbox, usurped the exclusive role of the National Labor Relations Board … in the administration of union elections.” The official said that “notwithstanding the substantial defeat of the union, the employer’s unilateral decision to create, for all intents and purposes, an on-site collection box for the NLRB ballots destroyed the laboratory conditions and warrants a second election. “

Amazon also held meetings with a captive audience and subjected workers to anti-union propaganda, which potentially tilted the outcome in the company’s favor, the NLRB agent said.

Even though Amazon management campaigned against RWDSU, the union was completely unable to garner substantial support from workers, despite widespread discontent over wages and working conditions. The Bessemer factory unionization campaign was a top-down operation involving bourgeois politicians from big business, celebrities and union bureaucrats. RWDSU officials made no demands to company management to improve conditions for the workers. Additionally, the long string of RWDSU betrayals at poultry factories in Alabama and Georgia, as well as Steelworkers, United Mine Workers and other unions in economically depressed Birmingham, has left workers completely alienated from propatronaux unions.

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