Emails Show Amazon Asking the Postal Service to Install Dubious Mailbox Ahead of Union Vote

Illustration for article titled Emails Show Amazon Asking the Postal Service to Install Dubious Mailbox Ahead of Union Vote
Photo: Elijah Nouvelage (Getty Images)

Emails obtained by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) show U.S. Postal Service employees expressing urgency about the need to install a mailbox ahead of Thursday’s election at Amazon’s behest.

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The National Labor Relations Board vote—which will establish whether or not Amazon workers can form a union with RWDSU—paused on Thursday night, with 1,100 votes against unionization and 463 in support. Roughly half of the ballots have been counted so far, but the gap is a difficult one to overcome.

The emails reveal just one tactic among many Amazon appears to have used to impact the outcome of the vote, making one wonder how many no votes might have been yeses without the company’s undue influence.

“We have not heard anything back on the install of this collection box,” a Postal Service account manager wrote to their colleagues near the Bessemer warehouse in one email. “Amazon is reaching out again to me today about the status as they wanted to move quickly on this.”

In another, the account manager identified someone “at Amazon HQ” who wanted to be “kept in the loop on this progress.”


In a statement to the Washington Post, an Amazon spokesperson maintained that the mailbox, located on Amazon property, was intended to “make it easy for employees to vote.” The spokesperson also said that only the USPS had access to the dropbox.

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The mailbox had no markings that identify it as the property of the USPS, according to the Post, a detail that makes it easy to see how some employees might have been intimidated by the idea of dropping a pro-union ballot in an unmarked box at their workplace, particularly when their employers were urging them to do so. “Speak for yourself! Mail your ballot here,” read a banner that hung over the mailbox.

It’s obvious that virtually no boss wants to “make it easy” for employees to form a union, especially at a corporation like Amazon, which pulled nearly every union-busting trick in the book ahead of the vote.

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The mailbox—an installation the NLRB opposed—is expected to be the centerpiece of RWDSU’s forthcoming challenge to Thursday’s vote.

“Our system is broken,” RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum said in a statement. “Amazon took full advantage of that, and we will be calling on the labor board to hold Amazon accountable for its illegal and egregious behavior during the campaign. But make no mistake about it; this still represents an important moment for working people and their voices will be heard.”

Night blogger at Jezebel with writing at The Baffler, The Nation, The New Republic, Vice, and more.

DISCUSSION

JackRabbitSlim323
JackRabbitSlim323

Illegal mailbox? You know what? Occam’s Razor is telling me that ‘yes for unionization’ is a loser, in ALABAMA. The power and reputation of unions have been diminished by government (Republicans) and corporations (all of them) for 50 years. At this point people think joining a union is synonymous to joining the mafia. That said, I never want to hear a single complaint from the Alabama Amazon workers about their difficult working conditions.