Workers at Amazon's Bessemer, Alabama, fulfillment center garnered international media attention when the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) called for an election at the facility to decide whether or not workers wanted to be represented by a union. For months, Amazon workers heard from both the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) and Amazon about the pros and cons of being represented by a union. When the dust settled and both sides had made their case, workers voted 2-to-1 against joining the union.
Now the NLRB has accepted its hearing officer's recommendation to hold another election. The issue rests with Amazon's installation of a mailbox intended to make it easier for workers to vote. The union pushed misleading information on its use and convinced the Board to overturn the election.
The bottom line is that the RWDSU was unable to make a compelling value proposition to the workers at the Bessemer facility. Instead of accepting the results and changing their messaging, they turned to the NLRB to save them.
It is disappointing that the NLRB chose to side with Big Labor to nullify the decision made by the majority of the Bessemer workers. The union bosses at RWDSU will get another chance to deceive, harass, pressure, and intimidate workers to boost their ranks.
The recommendation from the NLRB to hold another union election at the Amazon facility should frighten all Americans. Big labor interests and unelected bureaucrats are overturning the will of the workers, but we shouldn't be surprised by this outcome. Former union employees and pro-union advocates are now in charge of the NLRB, and their impact and influence are evident with this decision.
What is scarier is that the situation in Bessemer could become commonplace if Democrats pass the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, which fundamentally rewrites labor laws to boost union density and would further empower the Democrat-controlled NLRB to push their pro-union agenda onto American workers. The bill would enable unions to fix elections to boost union membership at the expense of workers, small and local businesses, entrepreneurs, and Main Street consumers. The bill would potentially eliminate secret ballots in union representation elections in favor of "card check", forcing workers to cast their vote in front of other workers and union organizers where they could be pressured to support the union.
The PRO Act also eliminates right-to-work protections for millions of workers, taking away workers' right to decide whether or not they want to join a union. It even forces employers to hand over the private information of their employees to unions. With this information, union organizers could pressure or intimidate workers at their homes, over email, or on social media.
One report from the Institute for the American Worker found that unions stand to gain over $9 billion if the PRO Act is passed and workers across America are forced to pay union dues. This influx of cash will only further entrench Big Labor's power and influence over American workers.
Big Labor may not have to wait too long to get this bailout. The NLRB is already enacting PRO Act policies by stacking the deck in favor of unions with their Democrat majority. Decisions like the one for the Bessemer facility could become the norm as Big Labor attempts to organize workers across the country with the knowledge that their former employees and allies at the NLRB are in charge of regulating them.
Big Labor and its allies successfully pushed Democrats to include PRO Act policies in the budget reconciliation bill, which could become law with a simple majority in the Senate. We should expect them to continue pressuring members of Congress to pass the PRO Act after their success with the reconciliation bill.
If the PRO Act is passed into law, expect to see more NLRB activism and a push by union bosses to force more American workers into unions without proper oversight. We strongly encourage Senate Democrats to oppose the PRO Act and the inclusion of PRO Act policies in the budget reconciliation bill.
Kristen Swearingen is the chair of the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace.