FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, February 22, 2022
CONTACT: Chelsea Connor | [email protected] | 347-866-6259
BESSEMER, ALABAMA AMAZON WORKERS TO FILE PRECEDENT SETTING ULP CHARGES AGAINST AMAZON FOR MISCONDUCT IN RE-RUN ELECTION
ULP Charges Include a Challenge to the Legality of Captive Audience Trainings, which Carries Precedent Changing Potential Under the National Labor Relations Board’s General Counsel Memo GC 21-06
(BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA) – Today, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) will be filing Unfair Labor Practice charges (ULPs) against Amazon claiming that it has engaged in misconduct during the re-run union election in Bessemer, Alabama. This is the second set of ULP charges by the Union, showing a continuance of the company’s conduct aimed at interfering with the right of employees to organize. This rerun election is the result of the company’s objectionable conduct under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) during the first election, conduct which the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) concluded interfered with employees’ rights to a free and fair election. All the charges highlight examples of Amazon’s continued efforts to undermine and suppress workers’ right to a free and fair election. Despite the adversity, workers of the BAmazon Union continue to fight to ensure their democratic rights at work are respected and Amazon is held accountable for its outrageous behavior. Amazon’s actions, which are summarized below, violate the NLRA.
SUMMARY OF ULP CHARGES:
- Removal of Union Literature from Breakrooms: BAmazon Union Worker Organizing Committee members have been posting pro-union literature in non-work areas on non-working time alongside anti-union postings from the company. These BAmazon Union fliers were removed by Amazon in violation of the law.
- Promulgating of a New Rule: Amazon promulgated a new rule limiting workers’ access inside the facility for any time period greater than 30-minutes prior to and after their shift. This rule is not in their policy handbook and violates status-quo under the law.
- Challenge Captive-Audience Meetings: Section 7 of the NLRA guarantees employees “the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection,” as well as the right “to refrain from any or all such activities.” When workers are forced to attend required meetings during work-hours to hear the company’s anti-union propaganda that violates their right “to refrain from any or all such activities.” This ULP charges that Amazon is in violation of Section 8 (a)(1) and/or 8 (a)(3) of the Act and seeks to challenge the current, yet often challenged, case-law precedent, which has for too long allowed employers to compel attendance to anti-union meetings. These aptly named “Captive-Audience” meetings are coercive and workers should have the right, as is already protected under the law in Section 8, to not engage in them. The ULP charge seeks remedy via review of this law by the newly seated NLRB.
“Removing union literature from break rooms, limiting workers’ ability to talk with each other, compelling attendance at captive audience meetings to listen to anti-union messages — all of these actions expose Amazon’s undisguised efforts to stifle workers’ voices and its contempt for their rights to join together. What’s Amazon afraid of?” said Wilma Liebman, former Member and Chairman, NLRB.
“Amazon does not have the right to force employees to listen to its anti-union messages. That is not free speech, it is coercion,” said Craig Becker, General Counsel to the AFL-CIO and former Member of the NLRB.
“Our organizing committee has worked hard to post our pro-union messaging fliers next to Amazon’s anti-union ones in the facility, as is our right under the law. I personally have hung up so many fliers on my very limited break time and during unpaid time off. I’ve done it because I so strongly believe we need to bring change with a union here. Not only was it discouraging to see our hard work removed, but it concerned us who was doing it given we know it’s protected under the law. When we heard from our co-workers that management was intentionally silencing us and removing our fliers it explained where the chilling effect among our co-workers was coming from,” said Anthia Sharpe, BAmazon Union Worker Organizing Committee Member, and Amazon BHM1 Associate.
“You can see our faces on these fliers. We are the Union, and we will not stand for our messages to be ripped down. How dare they literally tear up our faces. It’s scare tactics plain and simple. I know my rights, and I know that this work is critical to ensuring we have a shot at equal time with our co-workers on why we think voting to unionize is our best chance at a better future. We will not be threatened, we will keep posting these and other fliers. Amazon is up to its same intimidation tactics, it must be stopped, and we must be permitted to have a truly free and fair election,” said Serena Wallace, BAmazon Union Worker Organizing Committee Member, and Amazon BHM1 Associate.
“Being forced to attend the captive-audience anti-union trainings was degrading. Amazon treated us like mindless robots, downloading mis-information to us. And the irony is, these meetings are the longest I’ve ever gotten to sit at work. If it's impossible to allow me adequate break and bathroom time, why is it possible, let alone mandatory, for me to sit through hours of anti-union trainings? It should be our choice if we have to sit through one-side’s arguments or not, it’s protected under the law and needs to be stopped permanently,” said Roger Wyatt, BAmazon Union Worker Organizing Committee Member, and Amazon BHM1 Associate.
“When I think about the union election I think of two sides, and that people need to hear both sides, but in a captive audience meeting people are only hearing one side. This time the meetings were the same lies that Amazon told before, but they’re still throwing it at you, throwing it at you, throwing it at you, sometimes twice a week. I went to sleep in some of the meetings, because I know what lies they were going to tell, and I'm so tired and some of the lies are just promises that they don’t keep. Too many of our co-workers voted no last time as a result of being forced to sit through hours and hours of lies in mandatory meetings, and now, like me, they're changing their minds and voting union yes. But what if we didn’t have this chance? We should have a choice whether or not to be subjected to these meetings, it’s our right under the law. If the company gets to speak, their opponent should as well,” said Steven Brogdon, BAmazon Union Worker Organizing Committee Member, and Amazon BHM1 Associate.
BACKGROUND ON THE CAPTIVE-AUDIENCE ULP CHARGE:
In MEMORANDUM GC 21-06, to All NLRB Regional Directors, Officers-in-Charge, and Resident Officers, the General Counsel of the NLRB Jennifer A. Abruzzo, requests that:
“Cases involving unlawful conduct committed during a union organizing drive present particular challenges with respect to remedies. It goes without saying that the “laboratory conditions” necessary for a free and fair election are often difficult to restore sufficiently in the face of unlawful firings, threats of retaliation, surveillance, and other coercive tactics designed to root out and squelch union support among employees. However, effective remedies still remain at our disposal. The following, which does not represent an exhaustive list, are remedies that Regions should seek from the Board in all appropriate cases:
Union access (e.g., requiring an employer to provide a union with employee contact information, equal time to address employees if they are convened by their employer for a “captive audience” meeting about union representation, and reasonable access to an employer’s bulletin boards and all places where notices to employees are customarily posted).”
All files associated with this press release can be found here and are usable for publication.
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The BAmazon Union is an organizing campaign of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). For more information, please visit our website at www.BAmazonUnion.org, Twitter: @BAmazonUnion.