National Labor Relations Board Finds Amazon Unlawfully Retaliated Against Workers For Their Union Activity
On November 21, 2023, Administrative Law Judge Lauren Esposito issued a decision finding that Amazon.com Services LLC (Amazon) violated the National Labor Relations Act by dismissing employees early, altering employees’ work assignments, and subjecting employees to closer supervision in retaliation for the employees’ support for the Amazon Labor Union (the Union), or for engaging in protected concerted activities.
Press Releases for National Labor Relations Board:
Region 29-Brooklyn Wins Administrative Law Judge Decision Finding Amazon Unlawfully Retaliated Against Workers for Their Union Activities
12/01/2023 02:06 PM EST
December 01, 2023
On November 21, 2023, Administrative Law Judge Lauren Esposito issued a decision finding that Amazon.com Services LLC (Amazon) violated the National Labor Relations Act (https://www.nlrb.gov/guidance/key-reference-materials/national-labor-relations-act) by dismissing employees early, altering employees’ work assignments, and subjecting employees to closer supervision in retaliation for the employees’ support for the Amazon Labor Union (the Union), or for engaging in protected concerted activities.
The decision also found Amazon unlawfully interrogated employees, disparaged the Union by using appeals to racial prejudice and derogatory racial stereotyping, and prohibited employees from distributing Union literature and confiscating Union literature from employees.
Judge Esposito ordered Amazon to cease and desist from further unlawful activity and to make the adversely affected worker whole for any loss of earnings and other benefits including any other direct or foreseeable pecuniary harms and any adverse tax consequences. Amazon must also post copies of a Notice to Employees for 60 days at its JFK8 and DYY6 facilities on Staten Island, New York, and distribute the Notice to Employees electronically.
“Workers have the right to advocate collectively for a more equitable workplace — and it is unlawful for employers to prohibit or retaliate against them for doing so,” said NLRB Region 29 Director Teresa Poor. “I’m proud of the staff of Region 29 for diligently pursuing this significant case and litigating for strong, meaningful remedies.”
The Judge’s Decision and Order was issued based on a Complaint and Notice of Hearing issued by Kathy Drew King, former Regional Director of Region 29 of the NLRB. Field Attorneys Emily Cabrera and Matthew Jackson of the NLRB’s Region 29 represented General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo in proceedings before Judge Esposito.
Amazon broke federal labor law by calling Staten Island union organizers ‘thugs,’ interrogating workers
PUBLISHED FRI, DEC 1 20236:24 PM EST UPDATED FRI, DEC 1 20239:25 PM EST
LINK: CNBC: https://www.cnbc.com/2023/12/01/amazon-broke-federal-labor-law-by-racially-disparaging-union-leaders.html
Amazon and consultants for the company violated federal labor law by interrogating and threatening employees regarding their union activities, and racially disparaging organizers who were seeking to unionize a Staten Island warehouse, a National Labor Relations Board judge ruled.
The NLRB said Friday that Administrative Law Judge Lauren Esposito found Amazon “committed multiple violations” of federal labor law at its largest warehouse in New York, called JFK8, between May and October 2021, a period that saw an increase in organizing activity.
In April 2022, employees voted to join the Amazon Labor Union, a grassroots group of current and former workers, becoming the first unionized Amazon facility in the U.S. Since that victory, the group has been fighting to reach a contract with Amazon.
The judge in New York heard testimony from Amazon employees, managers and labor consultants in virtual hearings that went on for almost a year. Esposito determined Amazon illegally confiscated organizing pamphlets from employees that were being distributed in on-site breakrooms and conducted surveillance of employees’ organizing activities.
Amazon also violated labor laws when it sent an employee at a neighboring facility to JFK8 home early from his shift and changed his work assignments in retaliation for supporting the union, the judge found. The employee, Daequan Smith, sorted packages at a delivery station called DYY6, down the street from JFK8, and was later fired in Nov. 2021. The union alleged Smith’s firing was in retaliation to his union activities.
Additionally, the judge found that Amazon broke the law when a “union avoidance” consultant, Bradley Moss, who was hired by the company, threatened employees, telling them it would be “futile” to vote to join the ALU. Amazon and other companies often hire labor consultants like Moss, referred to as “persuaders,” to dissuade workers from unionizing. The company spent $14 million on anti-union consultants in 2022, the Huffington Post reported in March, citing disclosure forms filed with the Department of Labor.
As a result of the ruling, Amazon will be required to post notices reminding workers of their rights at its JFK8 and DYY6 facilities. The company also has to make Smith “whole for any loss of earnings and other benefits,” the NLRB said.
In one exchange with a JFK8 employee, Natalie Monarrez, Moss discussed the union campaign at another Amazon facility, BHM1, in Bessemer, Alabama. Monarrez said Moss told her the Bessemer campaign was “not a serious union drive,” but a “Black Lives Matter protest about social injustice.”
“Moss then pointed to the front of the JFK8 warehouse and said, ‘Just like these guys out here, they’re just a bunch of thugs,’” Esposito wrote in her judgment, citing testimony from Monarrez.
Amazon spokesperson Eileen Hards said in a statement that company is reviewing the judge’s decision and weighing its next steps based on the ruling.
“We disagree with certain decisions within the ruling, but are glad the judge agreed that the terminated individual should not be reinstated,” Hards added.
Moss didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Employees at BHM1 voted against joining the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union in April 2021, but the results of the election were tossed after the NLRB found Amazon improperly interfered in the vote. A do-over election was held last year, but the results remain too close to call.
Amazon’s labor record has been scrutinized heavily, especially as union organizing ramped up in its warehouse and delivery workforce during the Covid pandemic. The company faces 240 open or settled unfair labor practice charges across 26 states, according to the NLRB, concerning a range of allegations, including its conduct around union elections.
The company has also clashed with Chris Smalls, a former Amazon employee and one of the leaders of ALU. A leaked memo obtained by Vice revealed David Zapolsky, Amazon’s general counsel, had referred to Smalls, a Black man, as “not smart or articulate,” and recommended making him “the face” of efforts to organize workers.
Amazon continues to challenge the JFK8 election results, as well as the NLRB and the union’s conduct during the drive. The agency upheld the results of the election in January.
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