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NLRB and Amazon

MANHATTAN, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES – 2021/02/20: Participants seen holding signs and marching on a picket line at the protest. Members of the Workers Assembly Against Racism gathered across from Jeff Bezos-owned Whole Foods Market in Union Square South for a nation-wide solidarity event with the unionizing Amazon workers in Bessemer, Alabama. (Photo by Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images)

As you may know, there is another attempt to unionize an Amazon facility, this time at Staten Island. There’s lots of reasons to be skeptical about this campaign, largely that it is being led by self-styled radicals who for ideological reasons are refusing to do this through an established union, meaning they have no resources. But hey, good luck to them. In any case, Amazon is responding as it does, through illegal unionbusting. I mentioned the other day how the Biden NLRB is intervening in the Starbucks anti-union actions. Well, it is also doing so at this Amazon facility.

The National Labor Relations Board sued Amazon in federal court on Thursday, asking a judge to force the company to swiftly rectify what it called “flagrant unfair labor practices” before workers at one of its Staten Island warehouses begin voting in a union election next week.

The case, filed in the Eastern District of New York, involves a former Amazon employee, Gerald Bryson, whom Amazon fired early in the pandemic after he was involved in a protest over safety concerns at the warehouse, known as JFK8. The company said Mr. Bryson had violated its policy against vulgar and harassing language during a confrontation with another worker in the protest, but the labor agency’s staff determined that his firing was illegal retaliation for Mr. Bryson’s workplace organizing.

The case has stretched on for almost two years in the agency’s administrative court process, with long fights over issues such as what evidence is admissible. Though an administrative law judge has not yet ruled in the case, the labor agency argued that a federal judge should force Amazon to make changes immediately, given the union election and Mr. Bryson’s involvement with the organizing. Voting is set to start next Friday.

If immediate injunctive relief is not provided, the board argued in its complaint, Amazon’s employees “will inevitably conclude that the board cannot effectively protect their rights” under federal labor law.

Of course, the NLRB being unable to protect the rights of workers is the actual stated platform of the Republican Party, so we will see. Sure helps to have a Board that acts to protect workers the best it can.

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