Amazon seeks to reverse historic union victory at one of its New York warehouses
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 it held to persuade its employees to reject the union campaign. In a filing released last week, 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 legalized the recreational use of marijuana last year for people over 21.
The company 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 an impression of support for the union in 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 in a statement.
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 had been 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.