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posted by martyb on Thursday August 05, @01:44AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

Amazon Unlawfully Confiscated Union Literature, NLRB Finds:

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.”

Also at The Washington Post, c|net, and Ars Technica.

Previously:
Amazon Workers in Bessemer, Alabama Have Voted Not to Form a Union.


Original Submission

Related Stories

Amazon Workers in Bessemer, Alabama Have Voted Not to Form a Union 178 comments

https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2021/04/the-amazon-union-drive-in-alabama-appears-headed-for-defeat/

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.

Also at The Washington Post, c|net, and Al Jazeera.


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 05, @02:33AM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 05, @02:33AM (#1163339)

    ICFI/SEP/IWA-RFC: National Labor Relations Board calls for union revote at Alabama Amazon facility [wsws.org]

    While Amazon management campaigned against the RWDSU, the union was completely incapable of gaining any substantial support from workers.... The RWDSU officials did not advance any demands on corporate management to improve workers’ conditions. On top of this, the long record of betrayals by the RWDSU in the poultry plants in Alabama and Georgia, and by the United Steelworkers, the United Mine Workers and other unions in the economically depressed Birmingham area has left workers completely alienated from the corporatist trade unions....

    [The RWDSU] in fact had bipartisan support from some of the United States’ most powerful establishment figures and corporate entities. The RWDSU conducted a months-long promotional campaign that was publicly supported by Biden and Republican Senator Marco Rubio [wsws.org] of Florida, among many others. In early March, the Democratic president recorded [wsws.org] a video in which he declared the vote in Alabama “vitally important.”...

    Workers in Bessemer rejected the RWDSU even though there is widespread opposition to the notoriously exploitative [wsws.org] corporate giant. Workers at the warehouse spoke out to the World Socialist Web Site about the difficult conditions [wsws.org] at the warehouse, with workers passing out on the property due to exhaustion.

    The workers in Bessemer were justifiably suspicious of the RWDSU, which refused [wsws.org] to name a single condition that it planned to improve. Even after a worker collapsed [wsws.org] at the BHM1 facility and later died, the RWDSU issued no statements or demands, even after being contacted by WSWS reporters about the death....

    A worker at Amazon’s BWI2 facility in Baltimore and part of the Baltimore Amazon Workers Rank-and-File Committee [wsws.org] expressed contempt for the RWDSU’s efforts to rerun an election. He said the RWDSU was using a “deceptive tactic” to “control workers” at the company. The worker referenced an episode during the Volvo strike in which Amazon executives flew down to the NRV facility [wsws.org], which produces its delivery trucks, in order to bring the struggle to an end.

    A recent statement [wsws.org] by the Baltimore Amazon Workers Rank-and-File Committee declares: What happens at Volvo affects what can happen at Amazon warehouses… The working class must respond with equal and opposite force against efforts to confine its struggles to one workplace. The bosses want to contain these struggles locally? Then we must break them out into the world sphere.

    Workers Struggles: The Americas [wsws.org] - This week in history: August 2-8 [wsws.org]

    • (Score: 2) by ChrisMaple on Thursday August 05, @05:31AM

      by ChrisMaple (6964) on Thursday August 05, @05:31AM (#1163376)

      The working class must respond with equal and opposite force against efforts to confine its struggles to one workplace. The bosses want...

      The rantings of a childish mind.

    • (Score: 2) by DeathMonkey on Thursday August 05, @03:16PM

      by DeathMonkey (1380) on Thursday August 05, @03:16PM (#1163522) Journal

      Or.... they didn't get any support because the most powerful company on the planet was illegally hampering their unionization efforts?

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by krishnoid on Thursday August 05, @02:42AM (3 children)

    by krishnoid (1156) on Thursday August 05, @02:42AM (#1163342)

    They're physical pamphlets. If (if) they were confiscated in full view of everyone in the break room, that could have been a means of providing verifiable evidence of suppression. Not to say there weren't other suppressive efforts going on behind the scenes, but seems like an oddly visibly overt "show of force" by hired security, in a legal area that Amazon already has to tread lightly on with union laws as established as they are today.

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 05, @08:05AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 05, @08:05AM (#1163413)

      “He took the union literature away and wouldn’t give it back,”
      It's not suppression, it's flat out theft. Charge the security guy with robbery.

      • (Score: 2) by Kell on Thursday August 05, @12:43PM

        by Kell (292) on Thursday August 05, @12:43PM (#1163461)

        Can't it be both?

        --
        Scientists ask questions. Engineers solve problems.
    • (Score: 2) by DeathMonkey on Thursday August 05, @03:18PM

      by DeathMonkey (1380) on Thursday August 05, @03:18PM (#1163523) Journal

      I remember this story making the rounds at the time and thinking it might be illegal as well:

      Worker says Amazon hung anti-union signs in bathroom stalls [go.com]

  • (Score: 0, Flamebait) by ChrisMaple on Thursday August 05, @05:26AM (3 children)

    by ChrisMaple (6964) on Thursday August 05, @05:26AM (#1163374)

    Amazon wouldn't have labor problems if they didn't mistreat their employees.

    Regardless of the law, handing out union propaganda on company property is the mark of a jackass.

    Labor laws are Marxist in design and intent, and should not exist.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Rosco P. Coltrane on Thursday August 05, @09:28AM (1 child)

      by Rosco P. Coltrane (4757) on Thursday August 05, @09:28AM (#1163423)

      Firstly, Amazon doesn't have labor problems. What they have is legal and PR problems for rabidly fighting unionization.

      Secondly, a union doesn't need to exist solely because there is something wrong at the company. People may choose to unionize when everything goes well, in case it doesn't anymore at some point in the future. Also, at least in Europe in countries a bit more enlightened than France on this issue, like Germany, the unions are treated as equal partners in company matters, and contribute positively even where there's zero social conflict. In fact, one might argue that there are few conflicts precisely because the unions and management cooperate with one another before it happens.

      Amazon... Well, that's the archetypal American, Henry Ford approach to dealing with your workforce. Not really surprising, and kind of sad really.

      • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Thexalon on Thursday August 05, @12:32PM

        by Thexalon (636) on Thursday August 05, @12:32PM (#1163457)

        I'd consider workers dying on the job and/or quitting in droves to be "labor problems". Not a problem with the workers' actions, but creating significant expenses for the company.

        One relevant point here about European vs American companies is that European companies, by law, have boards with representatives from labor and often government in addition to shareholders. It's a peculiarly American structure to have only the shareholders having influence over a company's decisions at the top level, and to nobody's surprise that makes US companies more prone to committing crimes or ignoring the needs of labor in favor of maximizing short-term gains for shareholders.

        --
        The inverse of "I told you so" is "Nobody could have predicted"
    • (Score: 2) by DeathMonkey on Thursday August 05, @03:20PM

      by DeathMonkey (1380) on Thursday August 05, @03:20PM (#1163524) Journal

      Yeah! Freedom of assembly is for assholes!

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