Amazon’s brutal anti-union campaign
Amazon won the majority of ballots cast in the union election by the company’s warehouse workers in Bessemer, Alabama, in a major setback in the fight to organise one of the most powerful corporations on the planet.
In an election in which around 5800 workers at Amazon’s Bessemer, Alabama warehouse were eligible to vote, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) received 3215 mail-in ballots. Amazon secured a majority of ‘no’ votes on the question of unionising with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). Were they to unionise, these workers would have become the first unionised Amazon employees in the United States.
The union has announced that they will file objections with the NLRB over Amazon’s conduct during the election process, claiming the employer “created an atmosphere of confusion, coercion and/or fear of reprisals and thus interfered with the employees’ freedom of choice.”
Amazon was able to hold “captive audience meetings,” mandatory sessions where workers heard management tell them why they shouldn’t unionise, where they are able to misrepresent facts with little to no penalty. The company texted workers several times a day to urge them to vote no, and covered bathroom stalls with anti-union flyers.
That Amazon can do any of this is evidence of how existing labour law favours employers.
Notably, none of these actions would be legal under the PRO Act, a labour law reform bill that recently passed in the United States House of Representatives. In a press conference the RWDSU’s president, Stuart Appelbaum said as much, stating, “We have to work hard for labour-law reform.”