Amazon warehouse workers scored a victory against the abusive e-commerce giant this week, in the form of a settlement between the company and the National Labour Relations Board (NLRB). That agreement, first obtained by the New York Times via a public records request, puts an end to a longstanding company policy that, in contradiction to labour regulations, made organising off the clock near-impossible to do.
The settlement specifically sees Amazon agree to end the unlawful policy that restricted worker access to “non-working areas” of the warehouse facilities beyond a 15-minute window before and after each of these workers’ shifts. Amazon also conceded to emailing current warehouse workers, along with anyone that’s been employed at the facility since March of this year, to let them know their new rights.
Minutely tracking workers’ schedules — even when they’re off the clock, in this case — is just one of the many tactics Amazon’s adopted over the years that have raised accusations of outright union-busting from employees involved. While Amazon’s historically denied some of these allegations, the company isn’t quiet about its anti-union stance. According to the Times, this new settlement was the result of six separate cases of workers from warehouses in Chicago and Staten Island lodging complaints that all alleged Amazon had kept them from organising for extended periods anywhere adjacent to the warehouse — even in the nearby parking lot.
Not only did Amazon agree to abolish those rules, but it also agreed to a bypass of the NLRB administrative hearing process that’s usually involved with these sorts of agreements. The move will make it less of a hassle to investigate claims of Amazon failing to abide by these terms.
This settlement comes on the heels of a fresh union petition filed by a group of Amazon warehouse workers in Staten Island. The Amazon Labour Union, as the group calls itself, originally filed a request for a union vote three months ago, but that petition was later withdrawn after the NLRB decided that the roughly 2,000 signatures gathered didn’t meet the number of workers needed to form a proper unit.
We’ve reached out to Amazon about the settlement and will update this piece when we hear back.