A National Labor Relations Board official recommended nullifying the results of a closely watched vote by which Amazon.com Inc. warehouse workers in Alabama in which they rejected a plan to join a union, according to the labor group involved in the case.
The recommendation by the NLRB hearing officer is a critical step in a process that could lead to a new vote to supplant the results of the one held in April. The findings will be reviewed by a regional NLRB director overseeing the case, who could make a final decision in a matter of weeks.
Both Amazon and the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union, which ran the unionization campaign in Bessemer, Ala., may file responses to the recommendation from Kerstin Meyers, the NLRB official who heard testimony from workers during an appeal hearing in May.
The NLRB hadn’t made Ms. Meyers’ recommendation public as of late Monday afternoon. An NLRB spokesman said the agency was looking into the matter. The board lists filings on its website, but they often have to pass through Freedom of Information Act requests to be released.
An Amazon spokeswoman said 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." Amazon will appeal the recommendation, she said.
The union, known as the RWDSU, said that Ms. Meyers found that Amazon’s actions in the election process violated labor law. The union has accused Amazon of intimidating workers, a charge the company denied.
"The question of whether or not to have a union is supposed to be the workers’ decision and not the employer’s," RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum said Monday. "Amazon cheated, they got caught, and they are being held accountable."
Roughly 71% of workers who voted rejected the union. Amazon denied any wrongdoing and said it followed all laws and didn’t intimidate workers. The company has said the union misrepresented the facts rather than accepting the choice of employees.