Amazon seeks to overturn New York labor victory, says vote tainted

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Amazon is seeking to undo the historic labor victory at one of its New York warehouses, saying in a legal filing Friday that labor organizers and the National Labor Relations Board acted in a way that tainted the results. He now wants to redo the election.

The e-commerce giant listed 25 objections in the filing obtained by The Associated Press, accusing organizers of the nascent Amazon Labor Union of intimidating workers into voting for the union, a claim a lawyer representing the group called it “patently absurd”.

“Employees have spoken,” Eric Milner, the attorney, said in a statement Thursday after Amazon’s anticipated initial objections were made public in another legal filing.

“Amazon chooses to ignore this and instead engages in stalling tactics to avoid the inevitable – coming to the bargaining table and negotiating a contract” on behalf of workers, he said.

Staten Island warehouse workers cast 2,654 votes — or about 55% — in favor of a union, giving the fledgling group enough support to claim a victory last Friday.

In an objection, Amazon said organizers “intentionally created hostile confrontations in front of eligible voters” by breaking up mandatory meetings the company held to persuade its employees to reject the union campaign. In a filing released earlier this month, the company revealed that it spent about $4.2 million last year on workforce consultants.

In another objection, Amazon targeted organizers’ distribution of cannabis to workers, saying the labor board “cannot condone such a practice as a legitimate method of gaining support for labor organizing.” New York last year legalized the recreational use of marijuana for people over 21. Milner, the attorney representing the union, said Amazon was hanging on to straws.

Distributing cannabis “is no different than distributing free t-shirts and it certainly did not act to interfere with the election,” he said.

The company also accused the organizers of improperly interviewing the workers.

The retailer originally signaled that it planned to challenge the election results because of a lawsuit filed by the NLRB in March, in which the board sought to force Amazon to reinstate a fired employee who was involved in the union campaign.

Amazon pointed to the lawsuit in one of its objections filed Friday, saying the NLRB regional office that filed the lawsuit “failed to protect the integrity and neutrality of its proceedings” and created the impression of support. to the union demanding the reinstatement of former employee, Gerald Bryson.

“Based on the evidence we have seen so far, as noted in our objections, we believe that the actions of the NLRB and ALU improperly suppressed and influenced the vote, and we believe the election should be reorganized so that a fair and broadly representative vote can be obtained,” Amazon spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said Friday.

Bryson was fired at the start of the pandemic after leading a protest calling on the company to do more to protect workers from COVID-19. While not at work during the protest, Bryson got into an argument with another worker and was later fired for violating Amazon’s vulgar language policy, according to his attorney Frank Kearl.

The NLRB did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Its spokeswoman, Kayla Blado, previously said the independent agency was authorized by Congress to enforce the state labor relations law.

“All of the NLRB’s enforcement actions against Amazon have been consistent with this Congressional mandate,” she said.

In other objections, Amazon targeted how the employment agency conducted the election. He said the agency failed to control media presence around the voting area and did not have enough staff and equipment, which the company said created long lines of waiting and “discouraged many employees from voting in subsequent polls”.

Meanwhile, Amazon and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, a union that ran a separate labor campaign in Bessemer, Alabama, filed objections to that election. The final result of the Alabama union vote is still up in the air with 416 disputed ballots pending in the balance. Early results show the union lost 118 votes as the majority of Amazon warehouse workers rejected an offer of union training.

RWDSU, which filed more than 20 objections, said in its filing on Thursday that its objections are “grounds to void the election.”

A hearing to review the disputed ballots is expected to begin in the coming weeks.

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