NEW YORK – The National Labor Relations Board has found a union charge that Amazon violated labor laws on Staten Island in New York City by holding mandatory workers’ meetings to persuade its employees not to unionize.
The Labor Department has in the past allowed employees to order such meetings, which are routinely held at companies like Amazon and Starbucks during union campaigns.
But in a memo sent to the agency’s field offices last month, NLRB general counsel Jennifer Abruzzo said she believes the meetings, often referred to as “prisoner audience meetings,” are contrary to labor laws and are trying would ban them.
The agency’s determination was shared on Friday with a lawyer representing the Amazon Labor Union, which filed the charges ahead of the retail giant’s first successful US organizing effort.
Attorney Seth Goldstein called it “a great win.”
“These meetings have been legal for over 70 years,” said an Amazon spokesman. “Like many other companies, we hold these meetings with our employees because it’s important that everyone understands the facts about joining a union and the voting process itself.”
An NLRB spokesman said the agency will file a complaint against Amazon unless the retailer agrees to a settlement. If the company fails to reach an agreement, the complaint would trigger administrative court proceedings, where both parties can litigate the case.
Bloomberg News first reported on the agency’s determination.
The agency also found merit in an allegation by the union that the company warned workers they could be fired if they voted to form a union and threatened to withhold benefits if they chose to do so, according to an email from Matt Jackson, an attorney for the NLRB’s Brooklyn field office.
“These allegations are false and we look forward to demonstrating this through the trial,” Amazon spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said in a statement.
The Retail, Wholesale and Department Stores Union, a union that conducted a separate organizing effort in Alabama, has also filed a complaint about the mandatory meetings.
The e-commerce giant has objected to the union election that resulted in a Labor victory, claiming organizers and the agency’s regional office in Brooklyn acted in a way that skewed the vote. A hearing on his claims is scheduled for later this month.
The union lost another election earlier this week at another Amazon warehouse on Staten Island.
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https://www.local10.com/business/2022/05/07/labor-agency-amazon-unions-meeting-complaints-have-merit/ The Amazon union’s complaints are valid