Federal labor official rules there must be a new union vote at Amazon warehouse

The Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama.
(Image credit: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images)

A National Labor Relations Board official ordered a second union vote at the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, after determining that Amazon improperly pressured workers during the initial vote in the spring.

The decision was made by Lisa Y. Henderson, the NLRB's Atlanta region director, who accused Amazon of having a "flagrant disregard" for making the union election free and fair. She specifically called out the company for waiting until voting started to have a U.S. Postal Service mailbox installed in front of the warehouse, saying Amazon "essentially hijacked the process and gave a strong impression that it controlled the process."

The workers voted more than 2-to-1 against joining the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union. Several warehouse employees testified during an NLRB hearing about Amazon's actions before and during the vote, with one saying that managers told workers that if they voted to unionize, the facility could shut down, and others saying they heard union leaders would use their dues to buy expensive cars and go on vacation.

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Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union President Stuart Appelbaum said in a statement that Henderson'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 spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said 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."

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