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NLRB orders new representation vote at Amazon warehouse, union says

RWDSU says agency’s regional director authorizes 2nd election

Will Amazon's Alabama warehouse workers be organized? (Photo: Flickr/Tony Webster)

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has ordered that workers at Inc.’s warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama be granted a second vote at union representation, according to the union that tried unsuccessfully to organize the workers in April.

In a statement on Monday, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) disclosed that an NLRB regional director formally directed a new election at Amazon’s Bessemer facility. The union, which is a party to the case, did not share a copy of the ruling, saying it could only be released by the NLRB under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. NLRB spokespeople did not respond to a request for more information.

In April, workers in Bessemer rejected representation by a 2-to-1 margin. RWDSU argued that Amazon illegally intimidated and coerced workers to either not vote or to cast ballots against representation. In August, an NLRB hearing officer ruled that Amazon had violated labor law and advised that the regional director set aside the original results and order a second election be held, the union said.

The date and method of the new election are yet to be determined. Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The union drive in Bessemer was the most serious organizing effort of Amazon in the company’s 27-year history. It appeared at the time that workers were swayed against representation because of the company’s relatively generous pay scale — more than twice the federal minimum wage — benefits, and opportunities for advancement. Amazon bet that workers at the warehouse would see no need for a third-party bargaining unit to effect change that the company thought was unnecessary.

Since the vote, the Teamsters union, which has 1.4 million members compared with RWDSU’s 100,000 and has the deeper pockets of the two, voted to establish a division dedicated to organizing Amazon’s workers. Warehouse workers are company employees. Amazon’s drivers are contractors.

Mark Solomon

Formerly the Executive Editor at DC Velocity, Mark Solomon joined FreightWaves as Managing Editor of Freight Markets. Solomon began his journalistic career in 1982 at Traffic World magazine, ran his own public relations firm (Media Based Solutions) from 1994 to 2008, and has been at DC Velocity since then. Over the course of his career, Solomon has covered nearly the whole gamut of the transportation and logistics industry, including trucking, railroads, maritime, 3PLs, and regulatory issues. Solomon witnessed and narrated the rise of Amazon and XPO Logistics and the shift of the U.S. Postal Service from a mail-focused service to parcel, as well as the exponential, e-commerce-driven growth of warehouse square footage and omnichannel fulfillment.