Amazon captive staff meetings over unions are illegal, US labor director says

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May 6 (Reuters) – A U.S. labor board official has determined that Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) violated federal law during mandatory staff meetings it held in New York to discourage unionization, a council spokesman said Friday, in what could lead to a new legal precedent.

The Amazon Labor Union (ALU) filed a lawsuit in March alleging that during so-called captive audience trainings to warn workers about unions, the retailer made threats and fired staff in support of the organization.

Now, the regional director of the Brooklyn office of the National Labor Relations Board has found merit in the allegations, in potentially one of the first cases where captive hearing practices have been found to be illegal, the spokeswoman said. counsel, Kayla Blado. If the parties fail to reach an agreement, the Director will file a complaint which may be taken to the NLRB at the federal level.

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Mandatory Amazon meetings in recent years have been a flashpoint for union organizers who sought to represent employees of America’s second-largest private employer but had no equal venue to counter its views. Employees at the New York plant chose to join the ALU weeks after the March complaint, the first time an Amazon warehouse voted to unionize in the United States.

Amazon, which said the Brooklyn-based region appears to have a pro-union bias, and the ALU did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Last month, the NLRB’s lead lawyer, Jennifer Abruzzo, called on the board to ban companies from involving workers in union-busting meetings, saying they were inconsistent with employee freedom of choice. In a future case, Abruzzo said she would ask the board to overturn its own precedent from the 1940s that meetings are legal.

Joe Biden, considered the most pro-union U.S. president in decades, last year appointed Abruzzo as general counsel, a five-person independent NLRB post.

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Reporting by Jeffrey Dastin in Palo Alto, California, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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