Surprise! Mail-in ballots raise the risk of fraud - according to Amazon.
In a Thursday filing with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the Seattle-based online retail giant formally requested that a group of Alabama warehouse trying to form a union be required to vote in person, rather than by mail, according to Bloomberg. The company also requested a postponement of the vote so the NLRB can reconsider its earlier ruling which gives workers the next two months to vote by mail.
A group of workers at Amazon’s Bessemer, Alabama, warehouse filed paperwork in November for an election to decide whether to be represented by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, a rare step for workers at a company whose U.S. workforce isn’t unionized. The NLRB, which oversees union votes, earlier this month said the vote would be conducted by mail, citing standards set up during the pandemic to keep workers and staffers safe. -Bloomberg
Amazon objected to the NLRB's decision - saying they had 'unfairly dismissed the company's argument' that its facility is safer than the surrounding Jefferson County, which hit a 20% COVID-19 positive test rate earlier this month. The company argues that in-person voting would have "fully minimized any risk of transmission," and that the NLRB's decision on mail-in votes was "based on speculation and conjecture, and without ever balancing the purported risk of virus spread against the public policy that ‘strongly favors’ allowing employees to vote in person."
The world’s largest online retailer said that a mail election raised the risk of fraud and the coercion of workers. It also said the process would depress turnout, arguing that as many as 29% of its more than 5,800 employees eligible to vote wouldn’t do so or would return incorrectly completed ballots. -Bloomberg
The solution, according to Amazon? Hold the election in a heated tent in the facility's parking lot in conjunction with software designed to ensure social distancing. The NLRB says conditions are too dangerous for in-person voting, and that acquiescing to Amazon's demands might give workers the impression that government employees conducting the vote might be receiving inappropriate benefits from the company.
"The most important factors in my decision are the safety of all election participants and the enfranchisement of all voters," wrote the NLRB's acting regional director in the Board's decision, adding "Both of these factors weigh in favor of a mail ballot election."