Amazon is running out of time to respond to allegations by a US regulator that it unlawfully repressed worker organizers at one of its New York warehouses.
If it is not possible to mount a defense against it fees [PDF] by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the internet mega-corporation will be forced to tear up its rules about what employees can and cannot do in break rooms and other non-work areas on Amazon premises. Rules like, you guessed it, not putting up pro-union posters.
It is these specific non-working areas that are at the center of allegations against Amazon.
The NLRB consolidated three on Tuesday complaints versus Amazon submitted by Amazon Union Labor in the weeks and months leading up to failed Tried to organize at web giant’s Staten Island LDJ5 camp in May.
It alleges that Amazon illegally banned employees from posting pro-union signs “in a non-working area during non-working hours” and is demanding that they take them down, interrogate them about union activities, and threatened disciplinary action for posting union materials in break rooms.
According to the NLRB, Amazon later disciplined employees by selectively enforcing its hiring rules, which cover what employees can and cannot do on company premises, both during and outside of work hours. Amazon, in particular, is said to have cracked down on anyone who put up pro-union posters and disciplined organizers. Ultimately, the union claims that Amazon’s aggressive anti-organizational tactics – intimidation and interference – led to this failed worker vote to organize.
The NLRB stated that Amazon “selectively and unevenly enforced the rule, choosing to unevenly enforce its hiring rules by applying them in a discriminatory manner against employees engaging in union activities.”
The union organizing vote that failed at LDJ5 came just a month after workers at the nearby JFK8 Fulfillment Center in New York City successfully matched to unionize, a process that Amazon recently undertook could not be undone when the NLRB said earlier this month that Amazon’s objections didn’t stand up.
A cure for Amazon’s bad behavior
Amazon has until October 4 to comment on the allegations, after which the Labor Department could file a motion for a default judgment. Otherwise, a final decision won’t be made until January 2023, when the NLRB holds a hearing to decide whether Amazon is at fault in the allegations.
If Amazon fails to convince the NLRB of its innocence, the company faces a variety of penalties, including the lifting of its entire solicitation rule. If it wants to reintroduce it, the NLRB said the company must explicitly exempt union activities.
Additionally, the NLRB is asking Amazon to physically post the boards Employee Rights Notice “in all places where [Amazon] would normally post notices to employees, including in all employee toilets and toilet cubicles.”
Attorney Retu Singla, general counsel of the Amazon Labor Union and their representative in several NLRB filings, said the biggest win for Amazon workers right now may be a third measure the NLRB would force Amazon to take: a truckload of labor rights training for supervisors.
In its filing this week, the NLRB said all supervisors, managers and agents interviewed, including security personnel and outside labor/management consultants, were required to complete mandatory training “covering the rights guaranteed to employees under Section 7 of the Act.” [National Labor Relations] Law.”
Singla said Amazon has a pattern of apparent violations of workers’ rights, including “recourse to threats and illegal enforcement of a nationwide publicity policy to punish workers for their support of unionization,” she said. Singla tells The registry that the training requirements included not just LDJ5, but all Amazon facilities across the country. Singla said this is a significant move, if not a first.
“The board is right to pursue nationwide retraining and repeal the policy across the country,” Singla said.
We reached out to Amazon for its side of the story, and spokesman Paul Flaningan told us the same thing he told the New York Times yesterday: “These allegations are completely unfounded and we look forward to showing that through the trial.”
An Amazon warehouse in Albany, New York is preparing to: a union organization Vote in mid-October, which is sure to have all eyes on it – and Smartphone cameras are ready – for any indication of bad behavior on the part of Amazon. ®
https://www.theregister.com/2022/09/23/amazon_nlrb_union_ruling/ Amazon singled out and harassed union organizers, says NLRB • The Register