- Amazon pushed the USPS to install mailbox at one of its warehouses, according to emails obtained by a union.
- The mailbox could be seen as a tactic to deter workers from voting to unionize.
- The union could argue to overturn a negative vote result by citing the emails.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Amazon reportedly pushed the US Postal Service to install a mailbox outside of its Bessemer, AL warehouse, according to emails obtained by a Freedom of Information Act request first reported by The Washington Post.
Over the past seven weeks, employees have been voting whether to form the first Amazon union in the US. The emails could have an impact on the union vote at the warehouse after they were obtained by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), the Post reports.
The group is working to represent nearly 6,000 Amazon employees at the Alabama site, in a historic union battle that could set a precedent for other companies.
More than 3,000 workers cast ballots, according to the union, and hundreds have been challenged, mostly from Amazon. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) began its public count of the votes on Thursday.
When the mailbox was set up, Amazon reportedly blasted workers with emails and texts telling them to “vote no” and put their ballots in the on-site mailbox, Vice’s Motherboard reported.
At the time, the union argued the mailbox could make it seem as if Amazon itself would directly see the ballots – a move that could deter employees from voting.
Prior to the installation of the mailbox, the NLRB rejected the company’s request for employees to vote in-person at the warehouse. Instead, the organization opted to only allow workers to vote via mail.
The Washington Post reported that if the union loses the vote, the emails – which show Amazon told USPS to get the mailbox up as soon as possible – could potentially be used to challenge the result of the vote, as it could be seen as a tactic to prevent workers from voting.
“We said from the beginning that we wanted all employees to vote and proposed many different options to try and make it easy,” an Amazon spokesperson told Insider. “The RWDSU fought those at every turn and pushed for a mail-only election, which the NLRB’s own data showed would reduce turnout. This mailbox – which only the USPS had access to – was a simple, secure, and completely optional way to make it easy for employees to vote, no more and no less.”
“The box that was installed – a Centralized Box Unit (CBU) with a collection compartment- was suggested by the Postal Service as a solution to provide an efficient and secure delivery and collection point,” a USPS spokesperson told Insider.
RWDSU president Stuart Appelbaum told The Washington Post that the emails show Amazon felt it was “above the law.”
“They did this because it provided a clear ability to intimidate workers,” Appelbaum said.
Amazon has historically acted against unionization at its warehouses, employing tactics ranging from posting anti-union signs at its warehouses to holding meetings designed to convince workers to vote against the union.