U.S. labor board prosecutors have determined that anti-union meetings held by Amazon in Staten Island, New York, violated federal law, according to an agency spokesperson.
The National Labor Relations Board’s Brooklyn regional director will issue a complaint if the company doesn’t settle, according to the Board’s communications office. The regional official concluded that the company held illegal mandatory meetings and made illegal threats in those sessions, which was communicated to counsel for the Amazon Labor Union Seth Goldstein last Friday.
The worker-led Amazon Labor Union decisively won an election to represent employees at an Amazon fulfillment center on Staten Island early last month, marking the first time that organized labor has gained a foothold at one of the e-commerce giant’s U.S. facilities.
During the election cycle, which spanned the earlier part of this year, Amazon held mandatory “information sessions,” during which managers and consultants made the case that workers should vote to reject the union.
The practice is standard operating procedure for the company, which also held the meetings during union campaigns in Alabama and at a second Staten Island warehouse, where the ALU lost an election earlier this week.
“It’s a bit rich for Amazon to complain about interrupting captive-audience meetings [that are themselves] inherently coercive,” said ALU attorney Goldstein in an interview. “We hope that Amazon will agree to end this unlawful union-busting practice.”
The NLRB general counsel, Jennifer Abruzzo, issued a memo last month asserting that she would seek to ban such meetings, arguing to the labor board’s regional chiefs that they constituted an unlawful threat to employees.
The Amazon case could offer a vehicle for Abruzzo to get the issue before labor board members in Washington, where President Biden’s appointments have swung the balance of power in favor of the Democratic Party.
Reporting Courtesy of Sean Hagerup for Labor Radio
Image Courtesy of Chris Yarzab on Flickr