Amazon illegally prohibited an employee from giving workers pro-union literature, confiscated that literature, and gave workers the impression that their organizing activity was being surveilled at the company's Staten Island fulfillment center in New York, according to National Labor Relations Board charges and other documentation reviewed by Motherboard.
An NLRB investigation found that Amazon illegally prohibited Connor Spence, a Staten Island employee involved in union organizing, from distributing pro-union literature in a break room on May 16—and then confiscated the literature—also in violation of U.S. labor law, according to evidence provided by the NLRB to the union’s attorney.
Connor Spence, a 25-year-old warehouse worker in Amazon's JFK8 fulfillment center in Staten Island, who filed the unfair labor practice charge, told Motherboard that on May 16, he was in the break room distributing leaflets about unions and copies of a notice that Amazon had to post in a Queens warehouse for violating workers’ union rights, when an Amazon security guard approached him and told him he did not have permission to distribute the leaflets.
“He took the union literature away and wouldn’t give it back,” Spence told Motherboard. “I filed the charge so that there’s accountability in place that prevents them from doing this in the future.”
Following the defeat of a high-profile union drive at a warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama this April, Amazon warehouse workers in Staten Island have been busy organizing their own independent union, known as Amazon Labor Union.
[...] The finding comes on the same day as an NLRB officer in Alabama released a report recommending the rerun of a union election in an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama. The Bessemer campaign marked the highest profile effort to date to unionize an Amazon warehouse in the United States, and inspired groups of Amazon workers around the country to take steps toward unionizing. The NLRB’s report on the Bessemer election found that Amazon illegally discouraged labor organizing, in part by pushing post office officials to install a mailbox outside the warehouse where workers were urged to drop their mail-in ballots, which an NLRB officer wrote “destroyed the laboratory conditions and justifies a second election.”
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Update: A majority of workers have voted not to form a union at the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Bessemer, Alabama. The result of the NLRB's initial vote count was 1,798 votes against the union and 738 in favor. Hundreds of additional ballots were not counted because their authenticity was disputed. But the "no" side already has a majority of the 3,215 votes cast, making the issue moot.
Original story, April 8: A closely watched effort to unionize an Amazon fulfillment center in Bessemer, Alabama appears to be headed for defeat. With about half the votes counted, 1,100 workers have voted against forming a union, while only 463 voted in favor.
The National Labor Relations Board is counting the 3,215 votes that were cast by workers at the Bessemer facility. The union needs to win at least half the votes in order to become the official representative of the roughly 6,000 workers at the Bessemer facility. Counting has ended for the evening and is scheduled to resume at 8:30 am Central Time on Friday.