A National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) hearing officer has found that Amazon breached U.S. labor laws during a union organizing drive at the company’s Bessemer, Alabama plant in April, according to The Verge.
Though preliminary at this stage, the recommendation to conduct an entirely new election to determine whether Amazon workers will unionize under the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), comes as an important, if yet inconclusive, win for factory employees.
In the vote this spring, workers had opted against unionization by a two-to-one margin. Following that result, however, the RWDSU formally accused Amazon of election interference for threatening layoffs and plant closures if employees moved to unionize, and surveilling people as they cast their ballots, according to New York Magazine.
“Throughout the NLRB hearing, we heard compelling evidence how Amazon tried to illegally interfere with and intimidate workers as they sought to exercise their right to form a union,” RWDSU president Stuart Appelbaum said in a statement. “We support the hearing officer’s recommendation that the NLRB set aside the election results and direct a new election…Amazon’s behavior throughout the election process was despicable. Amazon cheated, they got caught, and they are being held accountable.”
The fight to unionize has expanded well beyond Alabama state lines. In June, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters voted in favor of organizing Amazon delivery drivers and has now established a special division to examine the company’s operations over the next five years. Union representatives say Amazon employees are pushing for a safer, more considerate workplace.