“Amazon’s Cynical, Anti-Union Attack on Mail Voting”

 Craig Becker and Amy Dru Stanley NYT oped:

The campaign against mail balloting in union elections is Amazon’s latest assault on industrial democracy. And it is one corrosive to political democracy as well.

Following the lead of state legislatures and courts during the pandemic, the National Labor Relations Board authorized mail voting. Since Covid’s onset, about 90 percent of union elections have been conducted by mail.

“A mail-ballot election is warranted,” as a decision of an N.L.R.B. regional director explained in Amazon’s case, citing “the undeniable presence of COVID-19 both inside and outside the Employer’s facility” and the “high and still-rising positivity rate” in Bessemer.

“The most important factors,” the decision stated, “are the safety of all election participants and the enfranchisement of all voters.”

Amazon appealed that decision last week to the N.L.R.B., which is still controlled by a Trump-appointed majority hostile to unions. The company contends that it could ensure the safety of onsite voting at the warehouse by offering health protections, including a heated tent, free coronavirus testing, disposable pencils, gloves and masks.

But Amazon’s arguments have repercussions beyond the pandemic. In its anti-union campaign lies a more sweeping condemnation of mail voting.

Ominously, Amazon echoes Mr. Trump’s false claims about electoral fraud to demand an in-person union election at the company warehouse, warning of “party fraud and coercion that is characteristic of mail-ballot elections.”

In the political sphere, it’s only too clear that falsehoods about mail voting laid the groundwork for inflammatory allegations of a rigged presidential election. Why, then, is Amazon clinging to these falsehoods in the labor sphere?

Because union elections held in the workplace give employers an advantage. Onsite balloting allows companies to deliver anti-union messages while the polls are open, even when employees are at work, while keeping the union off employer property. Except in extraordinary circumstances, this type of voting was the rule before the pandemic. But it’s equivalent to states holding presidential elections in one party’s headquarters.


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