A National Labor Relations Board official is recommending that the results of a historic union election held earlier this year at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama be thrown out and a new election held as a result of the e-commerce giant’s illegal behavior.
The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which was behind the union drive that Amazon soundly defeated in April, released the recommendation from an NLRB hearing officer in a press release.
The hearing officer said the evidence shows Amazon “interfered with the laboratory conditions necessary to conduct a fair election,” according to a copy of the recommendation report seen by CNN Business Tuesday morning.
Due to the pandemic, the election was conducted by mail over a nearly two-month period, attracting national attention, with celebrities, politicians (including President Joe Biden), and employees from other Amazon facilities lending public support to the workers driving the unionization effort.
After the vote was tallied in April, RWDSU filed formal objections with the NLRB, alleging that Amazon’s actions in the run-up to and during the election prevented “a free and uncoerced exercise of choice by the employees.” It requested that the board “put the election on hold.”
According to the RWDSU, the officer presiding over the case determined that Amazon (AMZN) had broken labor law and will recommend that the results be overturned and a new election held.
Amazon and the union will have the opportunity to file exceptions, according to the NLRB’s previous guidance on the process. The regional director of the NLRB will then make a decision on the case.
“Throughout the NLRB hearing, we heard compelling evidence how Amazon tried to illegally interfere with and intimidate workers as they sought to exercise their right to form a union. We support the hearing officer’s recommendation that the NLRB set aside the election results and direct a new election,” said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the RWDSU, in a statement Monday.
In response to Monday’s news, an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement: “Our employees had a chance to be heard during a noisy time when all types of voices were weighing into the national debate, and at the end of the day, they voted overwhelmingly in favor of a direct connection with their managers and the company. Their voice should be heard above all else, and we plan to appeal to ensure that happens.”
Several of the union’s complaints focused on the mailbox in the parking lot that Amazon installed earlier this year and encouraged employees to use to mail their ballots. Normally, union elections are held in person with NLRB officials present, but due to the pandemic, the NLRB allowed voting by mail, despite Amazon’s protests. The ballots were mailed to eligible employees’ homes and could be voted on at any USPS mailbox. Prior to the results, the union had expressed displeasure with Amazon’s new mailbox.