Staten Island Labor Organizers Taking on Amazon File Charges

Commercial Observer

Staten Island is not the only place where Amazon workers want to unionize. The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), which is fighting to represent Amazon fulfillment center workers at BHM1 in Bessemer, Ala., filed objections with the NLRB in April to Amazon’s conduct during their union election, alleging that the e-commerce giant threatened, intimidated, and confused workers ahead of the vote. While employees in the Bessemer warehouse voted in April against unionizing, with only 738 in favor of the 3,215 ballots cast, the election results could be set aside if the NLRB finds that Amazon illegally interfered with the vote, CO previously reported. The RWDSU alleged that Amazon threatened workers through mandatory meetings and emails, saying that unionization would lead to a loss of business at the facility, which could lead to layoffs or a shutdown, and that Amazon changed the timing of a traffic light outside of its warehouse, reportedly to prevent pro-union workers from canvassing while workers were stopped at the light. 

The union also alleged that Amazon tried to make it appear that the corporation controlled the election process by placing a ballot collection box in the Amazon parking lot, and pressuring workers to use the Amazon-installed box, which was located within the range of Amazon-owned surveillance cameras. Amazon installed the box, despite the fact the NLRB denied Amazon’s request for a warehouse-based drop box. “The fact is that less than 16 percent of employees at BHM1 voted to join a union,” an Amazon spokesperson previously told CO. “Rather than accepting these employees’ choice, the union seems determined to continue misrepresenting the facts in order to drive its own agenda. We look forward to the next steps in the legal process.”

The RWDSU has attempted to unionize the Staten Island warehouse, too. In 2018, the union announced its intention to unionize workers to address safety concerns, lengthy unpaid security checks, unreasonable hourly quotas and insufficient breaks, as reported The Verge, but that union hasn’t materialized.