Amazon is trying to overturn the historic union victory at one of its New York City warehouses, arguing in a lawsuit filed Friday that union organizers and the National Labor Relations Board acted in a way that skewed the results. Now she wants to repeat 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, an allegation that a lawyer representing the group as “manifestly absurd”.
“The employees have spoken,” attorney Eric Milner said in a statement Thursday after Amazon’s originally planned objections were made public in another court filing. “Amazon is choosing to ignore this and instead engage in delaying tactics to avoid the inevitable — getting to the negotiating table and negotiating a contract,” he said on behalf of the workers.
Warehouse workers in Staten Island cast 2,654 votes – or about 55% – for a union, giving the fledgling group enough support to snatch a victory last Friday.
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In one objection, Amazon said organizers had “purposefully created hostile confrontations in front of eligible voters” by disrupting the mandatory meetings they were holding to persuade their employees to oppose the union campaign. In a filing released last week, the company said it spent about $4.2 million on employment counselors last year.
In another objection, Amazon targeted the organizers’ distribution of cannabis to workers, saying the Labor Department “cannot condone such a practice as a legitimate method of gaining support for a labor organization.” New York last year legalized recreational marijuana use for those overpaid 21. Milner, the union’s attorney, said Amazon is grasping at straws.
Handing out cannabis “is no different than giving out free t-shirts and it certainly didn’t help disrupt the election,” he said.
The company also accused the organizers of not properly interviewing workers.
The retailer initially signaled that it planned to contest the election results because the NLRB filed a lawsuit in March in which the board wanted to force Amazon to reinstate a fired employee involved in the union campaign.
The company referenced the lawsuit in one of its objections filed Friday, saying the regional NLRB office that filed the lawsuit “failed to protect the integrity and neutrality of its procedures” and gave an impression of support for the union, by filing for reinstatement for former employee, Gerald Bryson.
“Based on the evidence we have seen so far, as set out in our objections, we believe the actions of the NLRB and ALU unduly suppressed and influenced the vote and we think the election should be reconducted so that.” it is fair and a broadly representative vote can take place,” Amazon spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said in a statement.
Bryson was fired in the early days of the pandemic after leading a protest calling on the company to do more to protect workers from COVID-19. While out of work during the protest, Bryson got into an argument with another worker and was later fired for violating Amazon’s vulgar language, according to his attorney, Frank Kearl.
The NLRB did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Her spokeswoman, Kayla Blado, previously said the independent agency has been authorized by Congress to enforce the National Labor Relations Act.
“All NLRB enforcement actions against Amazon have been consistent with this mandate from Congress,” she said.
In other objections, Amazon targeted how the employment agency conducted the election. It said the agency had failed to control media exposure in the election area and lacked sufficient staff and equipment, which the company said resulted in long lines and “dissuaded many employees from voting in subsequent election sessions.”
Meanwhile, both Amazon and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, a union that has led a separate union campaign in Bessemer, Alabama, have objected to the election. The final result in Alabama is still up in the air as 416 outstanding contested ballots are pending. Initial results show the union has lost 118 votes, with a majority of Amazon warehouse workers rejecting an offer to form a union.
RWDSU, which has filed more than 20 objections, said in its Thursday filing that its objections are “reasons to overturn the election.”
A hearing to review the contested ballots is expected to begin in the coming weeks.
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