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Union in Alabama again files objections to Amazon’s conduct before second warehouse election

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An Amazon fulfillment center. (GeekWire File Photo)

For the second time, the union attempting to organize workers at an Amazon warehouse facility in Bessemer, Ala., has filed an objection related to the conduct of the tech giant during the run-up to an election. The union is seeking a hearing to determine if the results should again be set aside.

The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) filed objections on Thursday with the National Labor Relations Board. It said in a news release that Amazon “interfered with the right of its employees to vote in a free and fair election — a right protected under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act.”

In the election last week, Amazon employees voted 993 to 875 against joining the union. But 416 ballots were challenged, and because that number is large enough to impact the result, the NLRB will hold a hearing to decide if any of the challenged ballots should be opened and counted.

It was the second time in a year that unionization appeared headed to defeat in Bessemer. Employees voted 1,798 to 738 against joining the RWDSU last April at the warehouse facility known as BHM1.

The call for the second election came after the NLRB said it found Amazon “interfered with the employees’ exercise of a free and reasoned choice by creating the appearance of irregularity in the election procedure.” The NLRB said a mailbox was installed outside Amazon’s main entrance and employees were improperly polled about their support for a union during mandatory meetings.

In August, a NLRB hearing officer ruled that Amazon stepped outside allowable guidelines and improperly pressured Bessemer warehouse workers against unionizing the warehouse. That officer recommended in a report that the election should be redone.

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And once again, union officials were not happy with the way Amazon acted throughout the process.

“Workers at Amazon endured a needlessly long and aggressive fight to unionize their workplace, with Amazon doing everything it could to spread misinformation and deceit,” RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum said in a statement. “The company violated the law in the first election, and did so again in this re-run election, without any doubt. We will continue to hold Amazon accountable and ensure workers’ voices are heard.”

The potential for yet another election could hinge on whether the NLRB regional director agrees that the results of the election should be set aside because “conduct by the employer created an atmosphere of confusion, coercion and/or fear of reprisals and thus interfered with the employees’ freedom of choice,” RWDSU said. 

RWDSU has asked for a hearing to present its objections, which are detailed in the document at the bottom of this story.

“We’ve said from the beginning that we want our employees’ voices to be heard, and we hope the NLRB counts every valid vote,” Amazon spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said in a statement to GeekWire.

The results and dispute in Bessemer have so far taken a back seat to a historic union victory in Staten Island, N.Y., where workers at another fulfillment center voted to join the Amazon Labor Union. The result delivered a landmark victory for the labor movement and a setback for the tech giant after years of successfully resisting organized labor in its domestic operations.

Amazon said last week that it may file objections of its own in regard to the N.Y. outcome.

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“We’re disappointed with the outcome of the election in Staten Island because we believe having a direct relationship with the company is best for our employees,” Amazon said in a statement. “We’re evaluating our options, including filing objections based on the inappropriate and undue influence by the NLRB that we and others (including the National Retail Federation and U.S. Chamber of Commerce) witnessed in this election.”

Union objections to Amazon conduct affecting Bessemer, Ala., election:

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