Amazon workers offered second vote on unionising

Amazon’s workers at the Bessemer, Alabama fulfilment centre are to be allowed a second vote on whether to unionise. This comes from the National Labor Relations Board, 10th Region in the US, and follows a vote against unionising in April.

During the run-up to the first vote, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) accused Amazon management of ‘gaslighting’ its staff through “egregious and blatantly illegal action.”

Amazon denied these allegations, and in a statement said, “It’s easy to predict the union will say that Amazon won this election because we intimidated employees, but that’s not true. Our employees heard far more anti-Amazon messages from the union, policymakers, and media outlets than they heard from us.”

The head of the RWDSU Stuart Appelbaum said that the authorisation of the second vote vindicates the claims that the union made: “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 — and as the Regional Director has indicated, that is both unacceptable and illegal. Amazon workers deserve to have a voice at work, which can only come from a union.”

“The National Labor Relations Board will conduct a second secret ballot election among the unit employees,” the board noted in its ruling. “Employees will vote whether they wish to be represented for purposes of collective bargaining by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. The manner, date, time, and place of the election will be specified in a Notice of Second Election.”

In response, Amazon said in a statement:

“Our employees have always had the choice of whether or not to join a union, and they overwhelmingly chose not to join the RWDSU earlier this year. It’s disappointing that the NLRB has now decided that those votes shouldn’t count. As a company, we don’t think unions are the best answer for our employees. Every day we empower people to find ways to improve their jobs, and when they do that we want to make those changes — quickly. That type of continuous improvement is harder to do quickly and nimbly with unions in the middle. The benefits of direct relationships between managers and employees can’t be overstated — these relationships allow every employee’s voice to be heard, not just the voices of a select few. While we’ve made great progress in important areas like pay and safety, we know there are plenty of things that we can keep doing better, both in our fulfilment centres and in our corporate offices, and that’s our focus — to work directly with our employees to keep getting better every day.”

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No date has been set for the second vote to take place.

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