Emails Present Amazon Pressured USPS to Set up Mailbox at Alabama Warehouse Forward of Union Vote

Illustration for article titled Emails Show Amazon Pressured USPS to Install Mailbox at Alabama Warehouse Ahead of Union Vote

Photograph: Denis Charlet (Getty Photos)

Amazon reportedly pressured the US Postal Service to expedite the set up of a mailbox outdoors of its Bessemer, Alabama warehouse forward of a high-profile union vote, a transfer union supporters argue is a blatant tactic to intimidate workers.

That’s in accordance with a collection of inside USPS emails obtained in a Freedom of Info Act request from the Retail, Wholesale and Division Retailer Union, which is campaigning to characterize roughly 5,800 staff at Amazon’s facility. If Amazon wins the election, the RWDSU might use these emails to construct its case difficult the outcomes, as the Washington Put up notes. The counting continues to be underway, however of the three,215 ballots submitted, roughly half have been counted as of Thursday night, with 1,100 votes towards unionization and 463 votes in help, per an unofficial tally confirmed by the New York Instances.

The RWDSU beforehand issued complaints concerning the mailbox after the Postal Service put in it in February simply earlier than the beginning of the warehouse’s mail-in balloting course of. It argued Amazon was deliberately attempting to mislead staff into considering the corporate performed a component in tallying the votes, and the field was simply the newest transfer in Amazon’s in depth marketing campaign of intimidation ways. The mailbox’s placement might additionally run afoul of the Nationwide Labor Relations Board, which beforehand rejected Amazon’s bid to position poll containers on the warehouse so staff might vote in particular person. (The NLRB opted as an alternative for a mail-in poll system, citing considerations about potential surveillance by Amazon higher-ups together with employee security amid the covid-19 pandemic).

The emails have been closely redacted within the Postal Service’s response, which the RWDSU shared with Gizmodo, however it’s clear that Amazon repeatedly needled the company about establishing a group field at its warehouse and had an actual deadline in thoughts: Feb. 7, simply days forward of the seven-week balloting course of.

On Jan. 8, a USPS account supervisor wrote to an Alabama colleague to inquire about how shortly a group field may very well be put in for Amazon at its Bessemer warehouse. The supervisor provides that an individual, whose identify was redacted, “at Amazon HQ would like to [be] kept in the loop on this progress.”

“We have not heard anything back on the install of this collection box,” the supervisor adopted up on Jan. 14. “Amazon is reaching out again to me today about the status as they wanted to move quickly on this.”

Six days later, they despatched one other electronic mail saying they’d simply discovered that “Amazon’s expected set up date for this collection box is February 7, 2021.”

Of their responses, USPS officers initially categorical concern that there will not be sufficient quantity to warrant shifting a field to that location in accordance with the company’s parameters. In a Feb. 1 electronic mail, an official estimates the approval and set up course of will take “a minimum of 4-6 weeks.” Nevertheless, a mailbox was positioned within the car parking zone in entrance of Amazon’s Alabama warehouse roughly every week later, simply in time for voting.

These emails additionally seem to contradict what the USPS informed the Washington Put up on the topic final month: That the Postal Service, and not Amazon, first got here up with the thought of establishing a field on the warehouse. In an announcement to the outlet, USPS spokesperson David Partenheimer claimed the field was “suggested by the Postal Service as a solution to provide an efficient and secure delivery and collection point.”

The RWDSU claims that Amazon used the mailbox, which is a kind of nondescript items you see in condo complexes or condos and thus lacks any markings to point that it’s property of the Postal Service, in tandem with its marketing campaign encouraging workers to submit their mail-in ballots at work in a bid to confuse and intimidate staff. The argument goes that some could have assumed Amazon held a job in conducting the election, and, by extension, Amazon might single out which workers supported union efforts based mostly on who resisted utilizing the mailbox, because it might moderately be assumed they have been appearing out of concern of retaliation.

These emails show, but once more, simply how far Amazon is prepared to go to withstand unionization efforts, RWDSU president Stuart Appelbaum mentioned.

“Even though the NLRB definitively denied Amazon’s request for a drop box on the warehouse property, Amazon felt it was above the law and worked with the postal service anyway to install one,” mentioned Appelbaum in an announcement to Gizmodo. “They did this because it provided a clear ability to intimidate workers. We demand an investigation over Amazon’s behavior in corrupting the election.”

For its half, Amazon claims that the mailbox’s placement was meant to make the voting course of extra handy for workers.

“We said from the beginning that we wanted all employees to vote and proposed many different options to try and make it easy,” an organization spokesperson informed Gizmodo on Thursday. “The RWDSU fought those at every turn and pushed for a mail-only election, which the NLRB’s own data showed would reduce turnout. This mailbox—which only the USPS had access to—was a simple, secure, and completely optional way to make it easy for employees to vote, no more and no less.”

Nevertheless, that rationalization rings hole given Amazon’s fierce anti-union marketing campaign in Alabama these previous few months, to not point out the corporate’s decades-long historical past of preventing unionization. To wit, Amazon has pushed out textual content messages, posters, mailers, Twitch advertisements, and each different method of propaganda to persuade staff at its Bessemer warehouse to vote “No” this election.

The union wants simply over 50% of the vote to win. Each Amazon and the RWDSU can problem ballots based mostly on sure eligibility necessities and petition to overturn the outcomes if the variety of contested ballots is substantial sufficient. The NLRB would then maintain a listening to and rule on the validity of every poll individually, a course of that might take months. On Thursday, the RWDSU informed Gizmodo that “hundreds” of ballots have been challenged, most of them by Amazon.

Sadly, it’s anybody’s guess once we’ll have the ultimate outcomes. It could be tomorrow, or perhaps Monday, or perhaps months from now (although hopefully not). We’ll proceed to publish updates as we study extra.

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