Amazon will remind workers of their rights after NLRB deal

The row between Amazon and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) took another turn after the company reached a nationwide settlement with the agency. Amazon has agreed to remind current and former workers across the United States of their labor rights in notices posted in the workplace, and on the workers’ mobile app and website. Amazon will also send a copy of the notice to the email addresses on file with it of any employees who worked at its facilities between March 22 and December 22.

The notice informs workers that they have the legal right to join, form or assist in a union. They can choose a representative to bargain with Amazon on their behalf and “work with other employees for your benefit and protection.”

In addition, workers have more freedom to organize in the company’s facilities. In the notice, Amazon states that it will not tell them to leave property or threaten disciplinary action “when you exercise your right to engage in union or protected coordinated activities by speaking to your co-workers in off-duty areas during non-work time.” It also would not ask workers about union activity, or why they are talking to their co-workers, according to the notice.

It would be easier for the NLRB to sue Amazon if the agency believed it violated the agreement. In such cases, the company agreed to allow the NLRB to forgo administrative hearing procedures, which could take a long time to complete.

“This settlement agreement provides a decisive commitment from Amazon to its millions of employees across the United States that it will not interfere with their right to work collectively to improve their workplace through union formation or other collective action,” NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo told New York times. Engadget has contacted Amazon for comment.

The agreement relates to six cases brought by workers who complained that Amazon was hindering their efforts to regulate. The company previously settled NLRB issues on an individual basis, but this is a broader agreement. The agreement includes references to employees, not contractors, who make up the bulk of Amazon’s delivery workforce. It is unclear whether they will be given the same rights and protections under the deal.

NLRB and Amazon have been at odds lately. In November, the Amazon Labor Council ordered a re-union election in an Alabama warehouse. She said Amazon intervened in the process. Workers at other facilities have tried to organize — those at the New York fulfillment center are trying again to join unions after failing to get enough signatures last time.

Amazon has always been criticized for its working conditions. This week, lawmakers sought answers from the company about whether its policies contributed to the deaths of six people after a hurricane hit a warehouse in Illinois. Amazon recently warned its workers that a more-than-usual workload during the holiday period could have a significant impact on their mental health.

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