The United States National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has accused Amazon of breaking the law with anti-labour action by “threatening, surveilling and interrogating” workers, reports said.
The NLRB has issued a complaint against the e-commerce giant alleging that it conducted anti-labour actions against workers at its Staten Island, New York facilities, the Verge reported.
Responding to the Verge, Kathy Drew King - Regional Director for Region 29 of the NLRB - said in a statement, “workers have the right under federal labor law to join and form unions and employers are prohibited from interfering with that right. Today the NLRB issued a complaint against Amazon alleging that the company repeatedly broke the law by threatening, surveilling, and interrogating their Staten Island warehouse workers who are engaged in a union organizing campaign.”
King added that the complaint seeks to stop and remedy this unlawful conduct to ensure that Amazon’s employees can freely and fairly exercise their rights under the National Labor Relations Act.
Further, as per a report by Motherboard, Amazon hired a union avoidance consultant who told workers that union organisers were “thugs”. It cited the NLRB complaint to detail other alleged incidents where security guards prevented union organisers from distributing pamphlets about the unionisation.
Amazon will either have to settle or battle it out with the NLRB as the latter is calling for training programmes for managers, supervisors, security guards and union avoidance consultants to ensure they are aware of workers’ legal rights, the report added.
Amazon did not respond to The Verge and denied the allegations to Motherboard.
On January 27, the NLRB confirmed that the nascent Amazon Labor Union had gathered enough signatures to hold an election. The election has been set for after a February 16 court hearing which will decide what workers the union would represent.
The developments come as Amazon faces a do-over union vote among warehouse workers in Bessemer, Alabama, during the next two months, after workers there rejected the proposed union last spring.
In a settlement with the NLRB in December, Amazon promised to let its 750,000 US workers organise freely and not to retaliate. The company is the nation's second-largest private employer, after Walmart.
Workers at a number of big US companies have been pressing for better pay and working conditions amid the pandemic and the labor shortage that emerged after shutdowns ended. In one example, workers okay-ed unionising in two of three recent votes at Starbucks shops in and around Buffalo, New York.(With inputs from AP)