Chicago NLRB Officials Allege Amazon Violated Labor Law

Local labor board officials filed a complaint against Amazon Monday alleging the company illegally discouraged organizing efforts at four suburban warehouses last year.

At the four facilities, located in Joliet, Monee, Channahon and Romeoville, employees organized by collecting signatures on petitions for higher wages this past August and September, according to the complaint filed by Angie Cowan Hamada, regional director for the National Relations Board. Labor in Chicago. . The company allegedly told the workers that they could not engage in protected activities off the premises in violation of the National Labor Relations Act.

Amazon allegedly called police about workers collecting signatures in Joliet and Romeoville, and in Joliet told police to remove the workers from the property.

The company is also accused of conducting illegal surveillance of workers in Joliet, Monee and Romeoville, as well as illegally questioning workers in Romeoville.

A hearing in the case is scheduled for early October at the regional offices of the labor board in Chicago.

“These complaints are without merit and we hope to prove it through the legal process,” Amazon said in a statement on Wednesday.

The complaint also alleges that Amazon violated the law by “selectively and disparately” applying certain company policies “only against employees who engaged in union and/or other protected concerted activity.”

Local labor board officials filed similar complaints against the company this week in Alabama, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Wisconsin, according to the NLRB.

One of the policies in question is the company’s “off-duty access” policy, which the complaint says prohibits workers from being inside or in “work areas” outside of Amazon warehouses when off-duty. .

The lawsuit requires Amazon to issue a three-year waiver of the policy at all facilities where it is in effect.

In the Chicago lawsuit, labor board officials also called for the repeal of the company’s solicitation policy, which prohibits the solicitation and distribution of literature at work and which officials say was also selectively applied against workers. who were involved in union activities or other protected activities.

Workers at the company’s Staten Island JFK8 warehouse are affiliated with the Amazon Workers Union. Two other unionization attempts in New York have failed; a union election for workers in Bessemer, Alabama, remains contested.

No Illinois warehouse workers have run for union elections, although warehouse staff at some facilities have become involved in other forms of organizing in recent years.

In October, workers at the Joliet facility named in Monday’s labor board complaint protested outside the facility on the first day of the company’s Fall Prime sale, demanding a base pay rate of $25 per hour.

More than 40 workers at the same Joliet facility have filed complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging a racist work environment; Employees had previously alleged that racist death threats had been scrawled on the wall of a bathroom in the warehouse. Amazon said at the time that it “works hard to protect our employees from any form of discrimination and to provide an environment where employees feel safe.”