Union challenge to Amazon’s election rigging scores initial win

Last week, a National Labor Relations Board hearing officer found that the corporate behemoth Amazon used illegal tactics to subvert the vote on unionizing in the BHM1 fulfillment center in Bessemer, Alabama, earlier this year. The hearing officer recommended a second vote and workers are now awaiting a formal ruling by the NLRB.

Workers at the Bessemer facility organized a campaign to unionize the warehouse under the Retail Warehouse and Department Store Union in March of this year. The BHM1 Amazon union campaign in Bessmer saw massive community support and garnered global solidarity that was met by Amazon’s outrageous and illegal anti-union efforts.

Throughout the election, Amazon posted anti-union propaganda in the warehouse, threatened workers with pay cuts and termination, isolated pro-union workers, and pressured the U.S. Postal Service to install a ballot box that was under the surveillance of Amazon management. The union-busting campaign waged against workers led to 2,000 employees of the warehouse not voting and a loss for the union in the initial vote.

In April, the RWDSU filed objections to the first vote, citing the tactics used by Amazon to restrict the workers’ ability to vote. The NLRB hearing found that the use of a USPS ballot box “usurped the NLRB’s role in administering Union elections” and that Amazon’s conduct “justifies a second election.”

The RWDSU released a statement in support of the recommendation, stating: “Today’s recommendation is based on Amazon’s illegal tactics and shows how the company was willing to use any and all tactics, illegal or otherwise, to stop workers from forming a union.”

Amazon continues efforts to prevent fair election

Amazon has stated that it plans to fight the challenge. Amazon frames the initial vote as a free decision made by its employees, insisting that its illegal activities were somehow intended to allow for a fair election with a high turnout. 

The objections will be formally decided on by the Regional Director, who will order a second election if the hearing officer’s recommendation is followed. If a second election is held, Amazon can be expected to continue its strategy of attempting to stifle the union campaign through a mix of open coercion and more insidious methods like paying the most precarious workers to quit rather than voting “yes” in the union election.

A union in Bessemer would mean that the workers have the ability to fight back against Amazon’s cruel exploitation and fight for basic decency at a corporation that profits off of the dehumanization of its workers. The intensity of work at Amazon is grueling and dehumanizing, and accounts have come out documenting the inability of workers to take bathroom breaks, drivers being forced to urinate in bottles, alarming injury rates due to unsafe work quotas and conditions, at-will employment where workers can be fired whenever for any reason, and much more.

Amazon has fought to prevent unions from forming at any of its facilities, and if the workers can defeat Amazon starting in Bessemer, it will show that the working class can fight and win against the most powerful corporation through collective struggle starting with Black workers in the Deep South whose labor has been super-exploited for centuries. 

Related Articles

Back to top button