Amazon, which is owned by Jeff Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post, is trying to block mail-in voting for a unionization vote at an Alabama warehouse.
Amazon has filed an appeal challenging the decision by the National Labor Relations Board, which is permitting a mail-in vote due to the risks of contracting COVID-19 from in-person voting, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.
“The ballots are set to be mailed to about 6,000 workers associated with its Bessemer, Ala. facility on Feb. 8. In its petition, Amazon said the board’s decision was flawed in part because it had not adequately defined an outbreak, among other objections,” the Journal noted, adding, “Hourly Amazon workers have never previously formed or joined a union in the U.S.”
“The NLRB said last week that the approximately 6,000 employees at Amazon’s Bessemer, Alabama, facility would cast a vote by mail, noting the health risks from the pandemic, as they stated, ‘A mail ballot election will enfranchise employees who cannot enter the voting location for health reasons or due to positive COVID tests. In addition, a mail ballot election will protect the health and safety of voters, Agency personnel, the parties’ representatives, and the public during the current health crisis,’” CNN reported on Friday.
Amazon complained that NLRB Acting Regional Director, Lisa Henderson, “reached the remarkable conclusion that any level of infection or potential infection among employees counts as an ‘outbreak.'” Amazon claimed that at its Bessemer facility, 218 of 7,575 employees and third-party workers tested positive in the two weeks concluding January 7, and thus that number did not justify canceling in-person voting.
Amazon stated, “If true, facilities will be in a constant state of ‘outbreak’ unless and until the virus all but disappears, with no manual elections occurring until that unknown time,” adding that a mail election could “disenfranchise dozens or hundreds of voters.”
Contacted by the Journal, Amazon would only say that in-person voting was best because it “provided the NLRB with a safe, confidential and convenient proposal for associates to vote on-site, which is in the best interest of all parties—associate convenience, vote fidelity and timeliness of vote count.”
Amazon, which boasts 800,000 employees, making it the second largest employer in the United States, is also fighting the unionization vote with a website called DoItWithoutDues.com, which argues, “HEY BHM1 DOERS, why pay almost $500 in dues? 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.”
“Bamazounion.com explains that a union at Amazon would ‘give us the right to collectively bargain over our working conditions including items such as safety standards, training, breaks, pay, benefits, and other important issues that would make our workplace better,’” Outkick reported.