The second union election at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama begins Feb. 4, according to a statement posted Tuesday by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which you can read below. The election is a repeat of the one in 2021, the results of which were declared invalid by the regulatory agency after reports that Amazon violated labor laws during the union action.
The election will be held nearly a year after workers originally voted on whether or not to unify Amazon’s BHM1 facility. The union nearly lost that election two-to-one, but disputed the results, objecting to a mailbox employees feared Amazon had access to. The mailbox was installed by the USPS at Amazon’s request, and at one point a “privacy tent” was set up around it, which the NLRB said employees believed was video-monitored.
The NLRB quotes the letterbox in its announcement of the second election, stating that the results of the first are being brushed aside after the regulator “found that the employer had interfered with the exercise of free and reasoned choice of employees by appearing of irregularity in the election.” It also accuses Amazon of “inappropriate polling of employee support during mandatory meetings.”
The replay will be conducted by post and supervised by the NLRB. In response to the report, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (the organization behind the Bessemer union action) released a statement saying it is “deeply concerned that the decision will fail to adequately prevent Amazon from to continue reprehensible behavior in a new election.” The RWDSU says it “proposed to the NLRB a number of remedies that could have made the process fairer for the employees, which were not included in the election announcement issued today,” and pledges to “continue to enforce [Amazon] liable for [its] actions.”
The RWDSU’s specific request was detailed in the NLRB’s regional director’s order for a second election, which was released thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request. According to the document, which you can read below, the RWDSU has requested that the second election be held at a remote location where employees cannot be monitored, and the NLRB would have more control. Conversely, Amazon requested an on-site election, saying it would provide “a large, climate-controlled tent in the parking lot” for its employees to vote for.
The RWDSU said the desired location could be made COVID-19 compliant, and Amazon cited lower COVID-19 infection rates (the order is dated Nov. 30, 2021, predating the spikes we’ve seen in recent weeks). However, the pandemic plays a big part in the NLRB’s argument as to why the election will be by mail.
Amazon did not immediately respond The edge‘s request for comment.
The NLRB says it will begin counting the ballots on March 28, although the ballots must be in its offices by March 25 to be counted. Due to a recent NLRB/Amazon settlement, organizers may have more opportunities this time around – the company has agreed to stop banning employees from being at their workplaces more than 15 minutes before or after their shift if they are engaged in union activities and has pledged to post employee rights statements prominently in its facilities and employee apps.
The NLRB message from the second election:
The NLRB regional director’s assignment for the second election:
Update January 11, 4:45 PM ET: Added information about the NLRB’s decision to conduct the election by mail and union requests.