BREAKING: Amazon Hit with Labor Board Complaint in Bessemer
Updated On: May 25, 2023

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) today issued five complaints against Amazon, including one in Bessemer, Alabama.

By ADAM KELLER Published on May 23, 2023

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) today issued five complaints against Amazon, including one in Bessemer, Alabama. 

From the NLRB:

“The complaints alleged that the employer promulgated and selectively enforced an unlawful “off-duty access” rule that banned employees from the employer’s facilities when not on shift. Among other remedies, the complaints seek rescission of the unlawful rule, mandatory training, and union access. The complaints also contain additional allegations specific to each location.”

The complaints involved multiple facilities across the country. In addition to the Bessemer warehouse, site of the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU)’s historic union campaign, complaints were issued regarding the JFK8 facility in Staten Island recently unionized by Amazon Labor Union (ALU) as well as facilities in Joliet, IL, Covington, PA, Swedesboro, NJ, and Kenosha, WI.

In Bessemer:

Region 10 (Atlanta) issued a consolidated complaint covering ten charges related to Amazon’s BHM1 facility before and after a rerun union election at that facility. The complaint alleges that, prior to the “off-duty access” rule, the employer promulgated and maintained a rule prohibiting access more than 30 minutes before or after a shift. It further alleged removal and prohibition of pro-union materials, captive audience meetings, interrogation and polling, surveillance, threats of loss of pay and benefits, and threats of closure. An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hearing is scheduled to begin on September 25, 2023.

Amazon’s union-busting activities have been well publicized. According to the NLRB, “the Agency has more than 180 open or settled unfair labor practice (ULP) cases filed against Amazon across 22 states.” There have been multiple cases at the ALU represented JFK8 facility, the first Amazon facility to be unionized in the United States. Cases also include a nationwide settlement regarding employee access as well as complaints spanning from Seattle to Las Vegas to Kentucky.

The NLRB also included a reminder that “a complaint is not a Board decision—it is the first step in the Regional Office litigating the allegations after investigating the charges and finding merit to them. Now, there will be hearings with NLRB Administrative Law Judges, who can order make-whole remedies. The ALJ’s decision can then be appealed to the Board and then to federal appeals court.”

This latest development comes as the fight for a union in the Bessemer warehouse has been ongoing for years now. Workers there received another shot at an election after the April 2021 results were thrown out due to Amazon’s illegal union busting conduct. The Bessemer workers voted 993 to 875 in March 2022 against joining the union during the rerun election but there are more than 400 contested ballots that could swing the balance. Since then, one of the lead organizers reported being terminated by the company in January

The “David and Goliath” fight continues to be an inspiration for a rejuvenated labor movement with its highest Gallup poll approval ratings since 1965. Will the energy and support translate to higher membership? The results may depend in part on how just how far corporate America’s union-busting activities can proceed. Labor activists in Alabama and across the country will be watching to see how these complaints shake out.

  • Stay tuned for more detailed coverage. Interested in hearing our coverage of the Amazon campaign? Check out our playlist featuring interviews from the original campaign.

Adam Keller is a union stagehand with the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 900 and co-host of The Valley Labor Report. He is a former high school history teacher and spent several years representing education workers in Huntsville, Alabama. He has served in various roles as a union member and is a member of multiple organizations seeking to build a better community. Adam is proud to be part of The Valley Labor Report media collective as we strive to amplify the voices of the working class in the American South.

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