A labor official found Amazon’s anti-union tactics sullied last spring’s election to unionize at a Bessemer Ala. facility. The official recommended nullifying the result and called for a revote.
Joyce Goldstein, a Labor and Employee Benefits Lawyer who founded the firm Joyce Goldstein & Associates, joined America’s Work Force Union Podcast to discuss the Amazon vote and why she thinks a revote will be ordered by the National Labor Relations Board (NRLB).
She also discussed a new remedy being considered by the NLRB to expand consequential damages for unfair labor practices beyond lost wages.
A redo with more votes cast could mean different results
The union election at the Amazon facility in Bessemer, Ala. lost by over 1,000 votes — but over 2,000 eligible voters did not vote. The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) raised a number of objections to anti-labor measures pushed by the company, including drop boxes to collect votes that were installed on Amazon properties within 50 feet of the facility’s entrance. RWDSU officials said the ballot boxes interfered with the election because Amazon was surveying who submitted a ballot.
A NLRB hearing officer agreed with a number of the union’s objections, particularly the ballot box issue, and recommended the election be set aside and rerun. The union is still waiting on an official order from the NLRB, but Goldstein expects the hearing officer’s findings and recommendations to be accepted.
Perhaps if the 2,000 people who did not vote in the election decide to cast a vote in a new election, circumstances may be different, she suggested.
Labor board considering broadening damage claims
Goldstein also discussed a measure currently being considered by the NLRB.
She said if an employer violates labor laws, the remedies available are not currently punitive. Instead, they are intended to make employees who have been the victims of unfair labor practices whole. These remedies have typically been limited to backpay — compensating an employee fired unfairly for any wages they lost.
The catch is the employee’s entitlement to back pay compensation may be limited if the employee got another job or is even considering looking for another job, Goldstein said.
Under existing law, the board is now considering including consequential damages. These damages could include credit card fees, late fees, penalties for early pension withdrawal, etc. — pretty much any costs incurred by an employee as a result of being fired unfairly.
The board is only considering such measures and has yet to take any meaningful action, Goldstein said.