Amazon Stops Employee From Distributing Literature About Union Organizing

According to some documents reviewed by Motherboard and the charges levied by the National Labor Relations Board, Amazon in a highly illegal move stopped an employee from distributing pro-union literature, took that literature and made the workers think that all of their activity related to such stuff was being monitored. The incident happened to Connor Spence at the company’s fulfillment center in Staten Island, New York, where he was distributing literature about union organizing on May 16 in a break room. Amazon not allowing Spence to distribute such stuff and on top of that, taking away his stuff is an obvious violation of U.S. labour law, according to the National Labor Relations Board. Connor Spence is 25-years-old and was distributing leaflets about unions when he was approached by an Amazon security guard who told him he did not have permission to distribute such stuff. “He took the union literature away and wouldn’t give it back,” Spence said to Motherboard. “I filed the charge so that there’s accountability in place that prevents them from doing this in the future."

The company’s workers on Staten Island have been quite busy lately organizing Amazon Labor Union, their independent union. “Amazon is very obviously anti-union. They cross the line a lot when it comes to stopping workers from unionizing,” Spence said. “Unfortunately labour law isn’t very strong in our country, but I’m hoping Amazon cares about its image and these stains on their record.” The above falls on the same day when a statement was released by an officer of the National Labor Relations Board suggesting the rerun of a union election that happened in Bessemer, Alabama. That campaign is, to date, the highest effort in unionizing an Amazon warehouse. The National Labor Relations Board’s report found Amazon to be illegally discouraging labour organizing in many ways, one of them was to have a mailbox installed just outside the company’s warehouse by pushing officials at the post office which “destroyed the laboratory conditions and justifies a second election.”

Another way the e-commerce giant is discouraging labour organising is by sending messages like “Don’t be misled by union organizers wearing Amazon vests”. As per the National Labor Relations Act of 1935, an employer cannot interfere with workers involved in union activity. NLRB has found Amazon to be in repeated violation of these laws lately. “The penalties for violating the [NLRA] are meaningless,” according to John Logan, an expert on the subject of union avoidance industry. “[For Amazon], it’s the cost of doing business. You can make a case that Amazon falls into the category of the worst offenders, a poster child for labour law violations.”

Amazon did not comment on the charges filed by Connor Spence, but responded to Motherboard regarding the Bessemer election. “Our employees had a chance to be heard during a noisy time when all types of voices were weighing into the national debate, and at the end of the day, they voted overwhelmingly in favor of a direct connection with their managers and the company. Their voice should be heard above all else, and we plan to appeal to ensure that happens.”