The election at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) should be held again, a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) hearing officer recommended.
The officer’s report concludes that the e-commerce giant interfered with the election by having a mailbox installed outside of the facility just after mail-in voting kicked off.
“It is clear that the sole reason the Employer sought to have a mailbox installed was the possibility that the Acting Regional Director would order a mail ballot election,” hearing officer Kerstin Meyers wrote.
The recommendation also faults Amazon for polling employees by distributing vote no paraphernalia around senior staff.
Amazon workers at the Bessemer, Ala., warehouse voted in April by a more than 2-to-1 margin not to unionize.
The union almost immediately submitted over 20 objections to the result.
The recommendation now goes to the NLRB regional director in Atlanta, who can choose whether a new election is held. Hearing officer recommendations are very rarely ignored, however.
“Throughout the NLRB hearing, we heard compelling evidence how Amazon tried to illegally interfere with and intimidate workers as they sought to exercise their right to form a union,” RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum said in a statement. “We support the hearing officer’s recommendation that the NLRB set aside the election results and direct a new election.”
The union’s arguments in a three-week hearing on the challenge focused on the mailbox, which it claimed made workers feel they were being surveilled as they voted.
The company has maintained that it pressed the Postal Service to install the mailbox to make it easier for workers to vote.
Amazon plans to appeal any repeat of the election, a spokesperson confirmed to The Hill.
"Our employees had a chance to be heard during a noisy time when all types of voices were weighing into the national debate, and at the end of the day, they voted overwhelmingly in favor of a direct connection with their managers and the company," the spokesperson added in a statement.
--Updated on August 3 at 10:04 a.m.