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Union alleges Amazon illegally interfered in Alabama vote

Union alleges Amazon illegally interfered in Alabama vote
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The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) has formally filed objections with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) over Amazon’s conduct during the union drive at its Bessemer, Ala., facility.

The union, which would have represented the warehouse employees, alleged in a filing late Friday night that Amazon illegally interfered in the workers’ right to vote in a “fair and free election.”

Workers ended up rejecting the unionization by 1,798 to 738, according to a tally that has yet to be certified. A successful challenge could ultimately invalidate that result and trigger a second election.

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“Working people deserve better than the way Amazon has conducted itself during this campaign,” RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum said in a statement Monday. “We won’t rest until workers' voices are heard fairly under the law. When they are, we believe they will be victorious in this historic and critical fight to unionize the first Amazon warehouse in the United States.”

A spokesperson for the NLRB declined to comment.

The union filed 23 objections in total, including allegations that Amazon threatened layoffs, loss of pay and benefits and even the closure of the facility if the union won.

RWDSU also said in the filing that Amazon interrogated and fired pro-union employees for passing out union authorization cards outside of work areas and removed employees who asked questions from mandatory meetings.

The union is also challenging the installation of a mailbox outside of the warehouse. Emails obtained by the RWDSU show that Amazon pressured the United States Postal Service to install the mailbox after its efforts to have an in-person election fell short.

A spokesperson for Amazon said in a statement that “the fact is that less than 16 percent of employees at [the Alabama facility] voted to join a union.”

“Rather than accepting these employees’ choice, the union seems determined to continue misrepresenting the facts in order to drive its own agenda,” the spokesperson said, adding that the mailbox in question was a “simple, secure, and completely optional way to make it easy for employees to vote, no more and no less."

--Updated at 10:36 a.m.