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Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Regulators Accuse Amazon of Singling Out Union Organizers for Discipline


Federal labor regulators have moved to pressure Amazon to scrap a rule that governs workers’ use of nonwork areas, accusing the corporate of illegally singling out union supporters in imposing the coverage.

A grievance issued on Tuesday by the Nationwide Labor Relations Board’s Brooklyn workplace mentioned Amazon “selectively and disparately enforced the rule,” which utilized to distributing supplies and to solicitation actions, “by discriminatorily making use of it in opposition to workers who engaged in union exercise.”

The grievance amounted to a discovering of benefit in a cost introduced by the Amazon Labor Union, which mounted organizing efforts — one profitable, one not — at two warehouses on Staten Island this 12 months. The case might be litigated earlier than an administrative regulation decide until it’s settled beforehand, and Amazon may attraction an adversarial ruling to the nationwide labor board in Washington.

The grievance mentioned the corporate utilized the solicitation coverage unlawfully when it prohibited employees from posting a pro-union sign up a nonwork space at one of many Staten Island warehouses, referred to as LDJ5. The corporate threatened self-discipline if the employees posted the signal or didn’t take away the signal, in keeping with the grievance, which additionally mentioned not less than one employee was disciplined underneath the solicitation coverage.

The grievance additionally accuses the corporate of disciplining two employees to discourage them from participating in union exercise.

After successful a vote to characterize roughly 8,000 employees at one other Staten Island warehouse, JFK8, the union misplaced an election at LDJ5 by a large margin in Might.

Underneath Amazon’s said coverage, workers are prohibited from soliciting co-workers for, say, monetary contributions on firm grounds throughout work time, or from distributing nonwork-related materials in work areas. The coverage additionally prevents nonemployees from conducting any form of solicitation on firm grounds.

The labor board’s grievance mentioned Amazon may reinstate the coverage provided that it explicitly said that the coverage didn’t apply to organizing and associated exercise by employees, referred to as protected concerted exercise. The grievance additionally seeks to require that each one supervisors, managers, safety personnel and outdoors consultants employed by Amazon obtain coaching on employees’ federally-protected labor rights. It may have an effect on a lot of the firm’s roughly a million workers nationwide.

(The grievance shouldn’t be clear on whether or not the coaching could be nationwide or solely within the New York area, and a spokeswoman for the labor board was not instantly in a position to make clear.)

“Amazon is committing flagrant human rights violations by unlawfully disciplining A.L.U. supporters and prohibiting union organizing within the firm’s break rooms,” mentioned Connor Spence, the union’s treasurer, in an announcement. “Union organizing in employer break rooms is a protected proper mandated by the Nationwide Labor Relations Board.” 

Paul Flaningan, an Amazon spokesman, mentioned in an announcement, “These allegations are fully with out benefit, and we look ahead to displaying that via the method.”

The grievance comes at an essential second for the Amazon Labor Union. This month, a listening to officer for the labor board advisable rejecting Amazon’s formal problem to the union’s JFK8 victory. (Amazon has mentioned it’ll most likely attraction a ruling on this query.) However defending the victory consumed time that the union had hoped to spend on pushing for a contract on the warehouse.

In October, the labor board will maintain an election involving the union and roughly 400 employees at an Amazon warehouse in Albany, N.Y.

Karen Weise contributed reporting.

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