I have obviously been disillusioned by my experiences in both AFE and Pick. But I have always been intrigued as well by what I consider an awesome, dynamic company. I had considered using my two degrees (BA, MA English 2014) to advance within the company. (I don’t think about advancement anymore; my focus has shifted to creating this document and stabilizing labor relations.) I felt the pain and despair of being an Amazon employee, but I also wanted to figure it out. What’s going on here? Why does it feel the way it does? Is this system effective? These aren’t easy questions to answer.
I began to wonder if anyone had made a run at unionization at Amazon. Doing a quick search, I discovered that the company had quelled a union attempt by a small group (that nonetheless would have had significant reverberations) in 2014.
I also discovered an interesting story regarding an Amazon worker in Phoenix, Arizona, and The National Labor Relations Board.
The result of this worker’s complaint was an agreement with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), Case 28-CA-126028, that Amazon will acknowledge and reiterate (what are already federally codified national labor policies) that workers have certain rights regarding forming unions, and that the company is legally forbidden to interfere in these activities.
The agreement was ordered and distributed as a two page Notice to Employees, “Posted Pursuant to a Settlement Agreement Approved by a Regional Director of the National Labor Board, An Agency of the United States Government.”
The wording of the document is interesting, as are Amazon’s actions and inactions subsequent to its ratification.
The document includes several assertions by the company like: “WE WILL NOT announce or maintain a directive or rule directing you to refrain from engaging in concerted activities.” “WE WILL NOT in any like or related manner interfere with your rights under Section 7 of the Act.” (Refers to the National Labor Relations Act, enacted 1935.)
Regarding informing employees of the Settlement Agreement, it says this:
“WE WILL furnish all of our employees across the United States with: (1) inserts for the current employee handbook that advise them that the overly-broad rules described above have been rescinded, or (2) the language of lawful rules on adhesive backing that will cover or correct the overly-broad rules in their employee handbook forms, or (3) publish and distribute revised handbook and employee acknowledgement forms that do not contain the overly-broad rules.”
I was an employee on 12/9/14 when the document was ratified, and I am still an employee at the time of this writing in September 2016. I was never made aware of any of the three options listed above. The way I became aware of this case and this document was through my own research. When I learned about the case, I looked for the document at SDF8, and I found it. It was hidden in plain sight, posted on the United States Department of Labor bulletin board containing posters about equal opportunity, minimum wage, etc., that no one ever looks at or reads. At SDF8, there is one of these DOL boards in each of the two large breakrooms and one in the ERC (employee resource center) computer room. Sometimes these DOL bulletin boards had furniture stacked in front of them. (I don’t believe this was by design; it’s just that no one cares about or pays attention to these boards.) So, I believe, three copies of the Settlement Agreement were posted at SDF8. To my knowledge, the company never attempted to inform associates about the Notice in entrance-way bulletin boards, stand-up meetings, All Hands meetings, A to Z magazine, inSTALLments, Connections questions, calls to home, signs, or any other communications channel. As far as I know, I might be the only SDF8 Tier One employee who has ever read the Settlement Agreement. It is possible that the company failed to meet NLRB requirements regarding the Agreement.
There is small print at the bottom of the document stating that “This is an official notice, and must remain posted for 60 days.” The Agreement Notice was not removed until sometime in February 2016, meaning the company allowed the Agreement Notice to remain posted much longer than it was required to, about a year.