In a ruling on Monday, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has ordered a second election at an Amazon facility in Bessemer, Alabama on whether or not to form a union. The first election that was held in April of this year was unsuccessful.
A federal labor relations official said that the tech giant interfered and violated workers’ labor rights during a high-profile union drive earlier this year. The decision comes after objections were made during the first election.
The effort to unionize was led by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), which hoped to use a victory in Bessemer as a step to unionize Amazon workers around the country.
The decision by NLRB region 10 director Lisa Henderson, largely rests on the e-commerce giant’s decision to install a mailbox in front of the fulfillment center to collect employee’s mail-in ballots for the union election.
The RWDSU charged Amazon with illegal misconduct during the first vote. In August, the NLRB hearing officer who presided over the case has determined that Amazon violated labor law and recommended Henderson set aside the results and direct another election.
The move announced on Monday is a blow to Amazon, which spent about a year aggressively campaigning for their warehouse workers in Bessemer to reject the union, which they ultimately did by a wide margin.
Only about 53 percent of the nearly 6,000 employees cast ballots during the first electin.
Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel called the decision “disappointing.” Nantel added, “Our employees have always had the choice of whether or not to join a union, and they overwhelming chose not to join the RWDSU earlier this year. It’s disappointing that the NLRB has now decided that those votes shouldn’t count.”
Stuart Appelbaum, president of the RWDSU, saw the NLRB decision as a victory and said, “Today’s decision confirms what we were saying all along, that Amazon’s intimidation and interference prevented workers from having a fair say in whether they wanted a union in their workplace, and as the Regional Director has indicated, that is both unacceptable and illegal. Amazon workers deserve to have a voice at work, which can only come from a union.”
The order will stand unless Amazon files a request within the next 10 days for the full board of the NLRB to review the decision, which could lead to the board allowing it to continue, a reversal and halting of the election, or results of the second election being thrown out if the NLRB sides with the corporation after the vote has taken place.
The board had not yet determined the date for the second election and it hasn’t determined whether it will be conducted in person or by mail.