Labor Unions

NLRB Recommends Amazon Warehouse Workers Vote Again on Whether To Unionize

In April, workers in Bessemer, Alabama, voted 2-to-1 not to unionize. Now they may be asked to recast their votes.

|

Back in April, Amazon warehouse employees in Bessemer, Alabama, voted 2-to-1 not to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), with 1,798 votes against and 738 in favor. Nearly half of the facility's 5,800 cast ballots.

Now the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has preliminarily recommended that workers at the Bessemer facility vote again.

RWDSU alleges that Amazon gave employees the idea that the company had access to their unionization ballots after a USPS mailbox was installed on the facility's grounds, with a company-branded tent over it. Though the idea was presumably to make voting as easy and convenient as possible, the pro-union contingent has alleged that many employees felt their votes were not actually secure and private.

"Postal Service official Jay Smith, who works as a liaison for large clients like Amazon, testified that he was surprised to see the corporate-branded tent around the mailbox because the company appeared to have found a way around his explicit instructions to not place anything physically on the mailbox," reported NPR, clarifying that Smith testified that no one from the company has been given the keys to the mailbox.

This is all in the context of regular information sessions in which the company argued to employees that unions would not serve their interests. (The meetings were, of course, required to halt before voting began.) The company's basic argument was that it already paid a starting wage of $15 per hour—well above both federal and state minimum wages, and thus well above many alternatives available to workers—plus benefits, and that union dues would eat up employees' paychecks. Amazon also plastered warehouses, including bathroom stalls, with posters telling employees to "do it without dues"; bombarded workers with texts and calls; and made a website filled with colorful, animated gifs telling workers that their lives and careers may be made worse by union representation.

"HEY BHM1 DOERS, why pay almost $500 in dues?" said the website. "We've got you covered* with high wages, health care, vision and dental benefits, as well as a safety committee and an appeals process. There's so much MORE you can do for your career and your family without paying dues." (The asterisk then somewhat awkwardly informed readers that such an offer applies only to regular full-time employees.)

These types of tactics are not uncommon, nor is such aggressive messaging limited to one side. Amazon asserted, in a statement following the results, that "our employees heard far more anti-Amazon messages from the union, policymakers, and media outlets than they heard from us." A quick scan of news articles from this past spring indicates that there's some truth to this, and certainly plenty of truth to the idea that many Amazon employees are happy with their Bessemer warehouse jobs, given that they pay better than many alternatives.

Perhaps the unionizing push made the company sweat a bit, which wouldn't exactly be a bad outcome if it makes employees better able to have their complaints addressed. An RWDSU objection to purported misconduct during the election reads:

During the critical period and throughout the election, the Employer's agents solicited grievances from employees and offered to resolve these grievances. The Employer's agents questioned employees as to what they would like to see improved at the facility and how the Employer could address their concerns. Prior to the organizing campaign the Employer's agents did not seek input from employees or solicit grievances.

It's crucial for employees to be secure in their belief that their votes actually were anonymous and would not lead to retaliation. But it's also important that union organizers not attempt to trump the will of the actual voters; if Amazon employees feel as though their grievances are better addressed via the current modes available, they shouldn't be browbeaten into submission.

As one anonymous employee described to CNBC, "the RWDSU did not explain what they were going to do for workers and did not respond to his request for information about how they had helped employees at other job sites." Given that only about 13 percent of the employees at the Bessemer facility voted in favor of unionizing, perhaps the RWDSU failed to make their case well.

The NLRB recommendation is just preliminary, and the agency will finalize its position in a few weeks. But even the tentative recommendation gives a shot in the arm to union organizers who had hoped Bessemer would be the beginning of a wave of organizing in Amazon warehouses across the country.

Meanwhile, Amazon will try to stop the vote. "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," says a company spokesperson. "Their voice should be heard above all else, and we plan to appeal to ensure that happens."

NEXT: L.A. Council Members Propose Draconian, Unenforceable Vaccine Passports

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Keep voting and counting until you get the right answer.

    1. This.

      1. Fantastic work-from-home 0pportunity for every0ne… Work for three t0 eight a day and start getting paid in XXX the range of 17,000-19,000 dollars a m0nth… Weekly payments Learn More details Good luck…

        See……………VISIT HERE

    2. This is how Trump lost the election: They didn’t recount enough. Keep recounting forever until you win. Arizona is showing us the way.

      1. Stuff your TDS up your ass, steaming pile of shit.

        1. You are right. Trump should be in prison for his high crimes against the nation.

          1. And those ‘crimes’ would be? If Trump should be in prison Biden should be hung from the nearest tree.

      2. Just ignore the thousands of miscast votes changed, the illegal election changes by the executive, etc.

        God damn youre a leftist mess.

        1. “thousands of miscast votes changed” – Jesse

          LOL. You be a retarded boy.

          1. Seriously asshole, everybody knows the absentee ballot scams, the ballot harvesting scams and the illegal modifications to voting protocol. Cut the bullshit and stop acting like Pudding Brains legitimately won. You fucking idiots were running around for four years screaming that the ends justified the means and whatever it took to get rid of Trump, by hook or crook, was totally justified. Just don’t expect us to believe it was legitimate.

      3. This is exactly what they did in the 2004 governor’s race in WA. First count R wins, recount R wins, next recount D wins stop counting.

        Rs haven’t won since.

        1. Republicans are too dishonest and too incompetent, and destroy everything they touch.

          No thinking, moral person would ever vote Republican.

          1. You’re the first person to be such a waste of time you get a mute.

            Even Sqrsly is more entertaining and intellectually engaging.

          2. Democrats = Use Gov-Gun-Forces to *steal* wealth.
            Republicans = Value to Society creates wealth.

            Do tell us more about this ‘moral person’ persona you live by.

            1. The ‘roots’ of Democratic idiocy lay in the arrogance and pride of collective [WE] Gang-Power over *everyone* mentality. In Politics it’s the use of Gov-Gun-Forces over *everyone*.

              It’s a primitive and violent battle of dictation/force to *steal* resources. The USA was founded on a MUCH better plan. A plan that every person has inalienable ‘power’ of will (i.e. Individual Liberty) and balanced in society by Individual Justice.

              Principles that [WE] mob-rules ideology just doesn’t have.

    3. I thought disputing elections from 2020 was a direct assault on our democracy…

      1. Turns out that was 2016 – – – – – – – – –

    4. Maybe this vote can be conducted through the mail.

  2. Because you didn’t vote the right way foolish peons.

    Seriously, this is probably going to get litigated all to hell. The Biden admin is proving they are the most corrupt regime in quite some time, and that’s compared to the last two dem presidents.

    1. Democrats are all for democracy until those pesky serfs don’t want what they think they should.

      It’s the same logic that if you are black and not a die-hard lefty, then you are evil and compromised. If you are a worker and don’t want a union, then you don’t know what’s in your best interest.

      How often have you heard “voting against their own interests”, as if they can decide what is in your interest?

      1. Right – remember how proud the media was when Obama curb stomped McCain and Romney by harnessing the power of Social Media? Remember how they BRAGGED about getting access to facebook data (with facebook’s blessing) to better target users with political messages? Those old GOP idiots just didn’t get it and were about to be perpetually rendered to the sticks.

        Then Trump won.

        Now everyone was concerned about fake news, and extremists organizing on these tools. We had to reign in social media because Trump suddenly figured out how to use the tools for his own. The same thing happened with gerrymandering when the GOP won a series of state races before the 2010 census.

      2. Republicans are the enemy of Democracy.

        I have never encountered a Republican who wasn’t a perpetual liar. Never.

        1. “Republicans are the enemy of Democracy.” — Yes, yes they are.

          BECAUSE the USA is a Constitutional Union of Republican States.
          Article IV; Section 4
          The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion

  3. Now who’s spreading conspiracy theories about the way votes are collected?

    1. Republicans? The NLRB board’s current make up is Republican (3 to 1) – not sure if the Board ruled or if this some junior officer’s ruling though. I think Biden has nominated people for the 2 vacancies, though.

      1. Hearing officer.

      2. “The recommendation comes from the hearing officer assigned to the case and is only a preliminary finding, but still hands the union a surprising win in a fight that many in the labor movement had considered lost.”

        —-The Verge

        https://www.theverge.com/2021/8/2/22598004/nlrb-officer-new-election-amazon-bessemer-union-drive

        1. P.S. The term of one of the Republicans on the current board of the NLRB is set to expire in three weeks, and this finding by the hearing officer is probably not entirely unrelated to that fact.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Labor_Relations_Board#Current_board_members

  4. “Amazon also plastered warehouses, including bathroom stalls, with posters telling employees to “do it without dues”; bombarded workers with texts and calls; and made a website filled with colorful, animated gifs telling workers that their lives and careers may be made worse by union representation . . . .

    Amazon asserted, in a statement following the results, that “our employees heard far more anti-Amazon messages from the union, policymakers, and media outlets than they heard from us.” A quick scan of news articles from this past spring indicates that there’s some truth to this”

    —-Liz Wolfe

    So, there were also charges of misinformation?

    There was not “some truth” to this. It’s either true or false, and the union reportedly also bombarded workers with text messages, etc. They were either hit with more marketing from the union than they were from Amazon or they weren’t.

    1. Slight disagreement and the issue is, arguably, slanted in the Union’s favor. If an Amazon manager decides of their own volition to make a gif and circulate it, it’s arguably a message Amazon plastered up. If a non-union employee sends an email blast calling for unionization, well, that’s just a private individual voicing their opinion.

      Even more complicated when you get into things like to anti-union stories run in the WaPo (if there are any) count as Amazon propaganda or no?

      1. Was Bezos able to offload the WaPo to his ex-wife?

      2. It wasn’t a non-union employee. My understanding is that the union in question marketed themselves to Amazon employees just as much or more than Amazon did–including text messages.

        “The RWDSU also texted employees and sent them leaflets through the mail.”

        —-WSJ, August 2, 2021

        https://www.wsj.com/articles/federal-labor-official-recommends-alabama-amazon-workers-hold-new-vote-union-says-11627947027?

        Feel free to use the Wayback Machine if necessary.

        Seems kind of important to the discussion, doesn’t it?

        1. “The RWDSU also texted employees and sent them leaflets through the mail.”

          —-WSJ

          Just in case you were worried about intimidation, yes, the union knows where you live.

        2. IC, ‘rule in’ on union membership rather than rule in on advertising.

    2. Apparently, spending a lot of money is not supposed to buy you an election – except when it is.

  5. Serious question: Is it illegal for employees to voluntarily associate among themselves and collectively bargain without having to also associate with a massive, corrupt union that already exists? I’d imagine unionization as a concept would be far more attractive if it didn’t involve handing over part of your paycheck to some corrupt douchebag for the service of trying to convince the business owner to outsource overseas.

    1. No, they are free to form their own new union if they want to. I think there are quite a few legal proceedings involved with being a legally recognized union though, so it’s a lot more work than just joining up with someone who already did all that. You’d also have to bribe your own politicians from scratch.

      The whole point of union membership is to mooch off the labor of others, all the work of forming your own kind of defeats the purpose.

      1. Also, the very premise is collective bargaining. I’m no expert but the employer isn’t going to manage 20 different contracts for 20 different unions of employees who’s jobs largely, if not entirely, overlap. They’re going to kick it back to the unions to come up with one agreement and then your relatively smaller union is going to have it’s demands folded into the additonal demands the larger union is making or voided.

        1. Actually, they would. Its really not much different from how it works with one union anyway. Sure, there’s a big contract covering low-end labor, but they’ll have smaller contracts for specialized groups – anyone with enough power to affect the bottom line if they walked off.

          1. And hell, having two unions representing warehouse workers mean they’re competing against each other to bring home the bacon – the company’s in a better position negotiating against *two* suppliers than a monopoly supplier.

        2. Micro unions are actually the new tactic when they lose an election for all employees. Try to find a discerning characteristic of the yes vote and unionize them.

          https://projectionsinc.com/unionproof/micro-unions-the-growing-unionization-threat/

    2. It is not illegal. Of course in that case it is also not illegal for the employer to tell them to fuck off and get back to work or they’ll all be fired

      The already-existing unions bring with them the force of law and political connections that only a massive and corrupt organization can wield

      1. The employer could also decide he’ll get a better deal this way.

    3. They could always appoint some group to bargain for them. And others could always appoint some other group. And others could just bargain for themselves.

      And Amazon has always been free to negotiate or not with these people.

      The POINT of getting the NLRB involved is to lock in one group’s favored negotiating team and have the government standing behind everyone with a gun – you will go through these people or we’ll kill you.

    4. “Is it illegal for employees to voluntarily associate among themselves and collectively bargain without having to also associate with a massive, corrupt union” – MoonRocks

      You presume without evidence that all unions are corrupt.

      To answer you question, employees can form their own separate union, but if they join a larger union they have more financial power.

      1. Wouldn’t say ALL unions are corrupt.

        Just 99.9% of em

  6. RWDSU alleges that Amazon gave employees the idea that the company had access to their unionization ballots after a USPS mailbox was installed on the facility’s grounds, with a company-branded tent over it. Though the idea was presumably to make voting as easy and convenient as possible, the pro-union contingent has alleged that many employees felt their votes were not actually secure and private.

    Most secure election ever. No ID required.

    1. I dunno it doesn’t sound like Amazon was handing out bottles of water.

  7. “As one anonymous employee described to CNBC, “the RWDSU did not explain what they were going to do for workers and did not respond to his request for information about how they had helped employees at other job sites.” ”

    Too true. I ran into the same problem when the Communications Workers of America tried a vote in my workplace. No pay increase, no additional perks (already pretty good) and, judging by other unionized workplaces in the company, promotions slowed to a crawl.

    1. Same here. One of my first jobs was at a union shop (UFCW) and compared to similar stores in the area we had lower pay and fewer benefits

    2. My old boss tells the story of when he was a foreman at a packing plant. The workers got convinced to vote for the union and the prevailing wage. The company did not fight back much. The workers voted and joined the union. Whereupon the company started paying the prevailing wage. Which was LESS than what they were getting without the union.

      Hee hee.

      1. Sounds like they, like you, TDS-addled piece of shit, took a look at a good situation and decided they (and you) were to “clever” to fall for those results.
        Right, TDS-addled asshole?

  8. the votings will continue until morale improves.

    1. SOME folks, being unenlightened, beat their meat, AND their employees!

      MEEEE? (And ALL of my multitudes of Mini-Meeeees)… WE VOTE our meat, AND our employees!

      (Cum over here, peon, and let me vote, AND emote, your meat!)

      (If you can’t quite parse that, you need more Jagermeister!)

      1. love the meat-tossing scene in PCU.

  9. If I had to unionize I would quit. Unions are anti-american and collectivist.

    I have family and friends who are unionized, and it is a miserable existence and demoralizing. Their unions truly do protect the laziest and most incompetent, while punishing people who work hard.

    The ones that work for government are lucky to be having a job at all. No way in hell I would ever hire a CA State Worker. At least my relative that works there realizes how much of a joke it is, and has told his coworkers (making 80-90k if not more): “You think you’re underpaid??? You’re lucky to have a job! If not for this no one would pay you minimum wage”.

    Or put another way, my manager has said that he is doing more work now than literally his entire 10 person team when he worked at a local university.

    1. I have family and friends who are unionized, and it is a miserable existence and demoralizing. Their unions truly do protect the laziest and most incompetent, while punishing people who work hard.

      I don’t exactly have a problem with employees or a company deciding to unionize as much as this. You wind up with multiple generations of lazy employees who think their employers should provide them with anything and everything and, if they refuse, their unions should force them to do it.

      And the attitude hardly stays confined to employers and unions and becomes just a baked-in assumption. Mrs. Casual told her mother she was looking into switching jobs. My MIL (a lifetime CPS employee) said it was a bad idea because my wife would be walking away from her pension. My wife had to inform her that she hasn’t had a pension since she worked for her previous employer 10 yrs. ago, they paid out when she left, and her retirement was split between our 401k and our personal accounts.

      1. As if it’s not bad enough to have a mother-in-law period, but she’s a CPS employee to boot? You, sir need a shot or three of Malort. Lemme guess, father-in-law is Streets & San?

    2. Forcing people to work for a company that rewards seniority rather than personal achievement should be considered cruel and unusual punishment.

      1. im using that line

  10. Ahhh they are taking the EU approch of constant voting until you get the wanted answer

  11. They probably made them prove they work there in order to vote. Like show an ID or something. “Those people” can’t be expected to do that.

  12. It’s really creepy to see reason supporting the theft of worker’s labor to benefit union bosses.

    1. “Formerly of Austin, Texas, she now lives in Brooklyn, New York.”

  13. They better check Trumka’s trunk there’s sure to be some ballots there.

    They tried to unionize my workplace three times, failed everytime. People would see
    unionized workers on strike whenever their contracts were up and the union settling for less than was lost striking. That was back in the 70s. The worst employees were the strongest unionists. When the final vote failed most of them left the company.

    1. please ….

  14. A quick glance at the map shows there would not be any retaliation if they vote for the union, just a new warehouse in Columbus GA.

    1. The Boeing approach…..

      nice!

  15. It is funny seeing all the Rs who spent months claiming that the 2020 election was tainted now being ok with elections being tainted.
    But this time it is for real. Union elections need to follow the law and if they are not they need to be redone.

    1. Get up off of your damn knees.

      1. If MG did, she wouldn’t be able to lick those boots.

    2. It’s funny all the steaming piles of lefty shit now making hypocrites of themselves.

      1. Just now???

    3. The election wasn’t tainted. It was The Most Secure Election Ever.

    4. “See, because the Trump election was tainted but we didn’t recount until we got the result we wanted we should totally be ok with other groups saying elections are tainted only they get to recount until they get the result they want.”

      Totally the same thing, amiright?

      By this logic, Trump would be President today.

      Not saying the above sarcasm is right or wrong, just noting the sentiment people are actually expressing. Since Trump didn’t get to recount until he got the result he wanted, the Union can suck lemons.

    5. “It is funny seeing all the Rs who spent months claiming that the 2020 election was tainted now being ok with elections being tainted.”

      This is so wrong in so many ways it’s hard to know were to start.

      Double reverse tu quoque?

      Automatically assuming the Amazon election was tainted–because some bureaucrat says so–is that an appeal to authority, a circular argument, or both?

      She doesn’t care whether she’s wrong or right or why.

      So, why bother?

      1. ^

    6. MollyBitch of course tries to equate a close election in 2020 that had lots of discrepancies in swing states, with a not close election about a union, where the union and the left failed.

      This is because a fucking leftie paid troll with her thumb up her ass thinks these are the same things.

      Higher standards MollyBitch, you’re slipping here. They are paying you a dollar a post and you don’t measure up.

    7. Both sides use propaganda, Amazon makes sure there is a USPS mail box on premises to make it easier to vote and you call it a tainted election? Holy fuck. I didn’t think even you were this stupid and/or dishonest.
      Let me guess. When the union loses the next election they will have to do it again because they didn’t have a USPS mailbox on the premises?

  16. It wouldn’t be so bad to do this if it weren’t so damn hard to decertify a union. There should be a 3-5 year cooling off period, not subject to judicial set aside if a group of employees says no, because once they say yes it is forever. Sort like communism.

  17. “Perhaps the unionizing push made the company sweat a bit, which wouldn’t exactly be a bad outcome if it makes employees better able to have their complaints addressed.”

    This is a truly tone deaf statement for a libertarian article.

    It is not a good thing that the government, and government alone, has created a high-stakes, one time vote that can forever change the very fabric of this company’s labor pool, while threatening to cascade through the rest of the country. Had employees voted to collectivize, Amazon would have been compelled by law to negotiate with a 3rd party in order to hire. This is forced association- forced by the government- which is EXACTLY a bad outcome.

    Companies every day “sweat” about their employees, because if they do not attract the best talent at the best cost, they will fail against their competitors. And that should be good enough.

  18. Clearly this is another illegal scheme by the corrupt and treasonous Biden regime. There are many, there needs to be impeachments and criminal action. In a normal functioning society this could happen, in our corrupt mafia society the left has the lawyers, prosecutors, and much of law enforcement with them. They are co-opting the military and of course have the bureaucracy. We are rapidly approaching the collusion of corporations with stalinist government. This has been a long time coming, and of course the media is the cheerleader.

    Someday there will be a Nuremberg style trial in the future and treasonous dems will be tried for their crimes. That is my hope. But my belief in that requires a GOP to stand up and take back the government and remove the cancerous dems once and for all. There is no one else. Libertarians are useless here.

  19. I was in 2 unions. Both were dog shit. Applied for a gig at a UAW shop. UAW brilliantly negotiated $8.25 per hour with no vacation or health benefits until a year on the job. Unions do not care about workers. They care about lining their own pockets with the dues of workers.

  20. Reason has no comment on how the NLRB, a State agency which can leverage the State’s monopoly on coercion, is attempting to influence the unionization of a private company? Please tell me how this is different from fascism, and then tell me why you’re not denouncing it.

    1. Formerly, the article would have made that quite clear. Instead we now get this pile of lefty shit:
      “Perhaps the unionizing push made the company sweat a bit, which wouldn’t exactly be a bad outcome if it makes employees better able to have their complaints addressed.”
      Lefty assertion absent one bit of evidence.
      Some years ago, Reason got a sizable contribution; now they get $100, so they know they are not forgotten, merely disdained, like tipping the server $1.00.
      Unions exist to make sure the union officers are not among the working class and, for PR purposes, to keep lazy parasites at the same pay levels of those who know what they are doing.

  21. So.. The unions and the Biden administration believe that putting a tent with the company logo over a locked metal post office drop box threatens the integrity of the ballots in a union vote….

    But plastering in monitored cardboard ballot droo boxes across a city is in no way a threat to the integrity of the ballots……

  22. Yes, because recounts only are for when Dems lose. Keep counting until you find the right votes.

    Less sarcastically, I’ve been in two labor unions. The branch up in Alaska was amazing. Training, support and groups of skilled, mostly motivated workers. Fantastic time.
    Moved to NM, and it was the stereotypical racist (“hey, fuck you, Gringo”) jackoffs that had mastered doing nothing in the most visibly productive fashion.

    It ain’t just unions, it’s the place. But the structure sure makes it easy to fall to corruption.

  23. And the good news is — Joining a Union isn’t Federal Law.

    Try escaping the Democratic Labor Union of S.S. Tax, Medicare Tax, Minimum Wage, Hardhats for Chicken Little’s Sky is Falling Down and see what happens with you deal with that Al Capone Gov-Gun Totting Gang.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.