2021-01-23 by W.M.
Amazon is pushing for a milestone union vote to take place in person despite the pandemic
The e-commerce giant filed a motion Thursday to delay the union election, which is set to begin February 8, so that the NLRB may revisit its decision to hold the election by mail over the course of nearly two months instead of through an in-person event.
The NLRB declined to comment on Amazon’s request.
The NLRB said last week that the approximately 6,000 employees at Amazon’s Bessemer, Alabama, facility would cast a vote by mail, noting the health risks from the pandemic.
“A mail ballot election will enfranchise employees who cannot enter the voting location for health reasons or due to positive COVID tests,” the NLRB decision stated. “In addition, a mail ballot election will protect the health and safety of voters, Agency personnel, the parties’ representatives, and the public during the current health crisis.”
In filings this week, however, Amazon said the NLRB decision regarding its election doesn’t specify what is considered an “outbreak.” Amazon said the NLRB’s Acting Regional Director, Lisa Henderson, “reached the remarkable conclusion that any level of infection or potential infection among employees counts as an ‘outbreak.'”
Amazon said that at its Bessemer facility, 2.88% of Amazon’s 7,575 employees and third-party workers at the facility — or 218 people — tested positive during the 14-day period ending on January 7. Amazon rejected the idea that this would be considered an outbreak.
“If true, facilities will be in a constant state of ‘outbreak’ unless and until the virus all but disappears, with no manual elections occurring until that unknown time,” the filing read, also citing that a mail election could “disenfranchise dozens or hundreds of voters” because it is imperfect.
In a statement to CNN Business, Amazon spokesperson Heather Knox said the company believes “the best approach to a valid, fair and successful election is one that is conducted manually, in-person, making it easy for associates to verify and cast their vote in close proximity to their workplace.”
“Amazon provided the NLRB with a safe, confidential and convenient proposal for associates to vote onsite which is in the best interest of all parties — associate convenience, vote fidelity, and timeliness of vote count,” Knox said in the statement. “ We will continue to insist on measures for a fair election, and we want everyone to vote, so our focus is ensuring that’s possible.