After repeated and determined efforts to unionize its warehouse workers in the face of stubborn intimidating tactics by the company, Amazon has finally come to a settlement with the National Labor Relations Board to keep its hands off workers attempts to freely organize into unions.
In the settlement, reached just before Christmas, Amazon agreed to a commitment to permit its employees to freely organize without retaliation. The company pledged that it will refrain from using threats of discipline against workers or to prevent workers from engaging in union activity in non-work areas of the warehouses during times when they were not at work. The agreement will affect some 750,000 American workers at sites throughout the country. It will also make it easier to sue the company for violations without the necessity of going through administrative hearings which often take years, rendering enforcement ineffective.
The agreement comes as the company has faced mounting pressure to improve worker rights amid current labor shortages and widespread discontent among its work force. Amazon has engaged in fierce anti-union measures for years, using all sorts of tactics to intimidate workers who have complained about intolerable conditions at its facilities and substandard pay that has failed to keep up with rising prices. In the aftermath of a failed vote to unionize workers at its Bessemer, Alabama, warehouse in April, the NLRB found that the company had engaged in numerous unfair labor practices and has ordered a new vote. The Bessemer unionizing drive is being conducted by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. And on Staten Island, New York, the Amazon Labor Union, an independent group, has refiled a petition with then NLRB to hold a union election.