Amazon’s JFK8 fulfillment center on Staten Island, New York, which this year became the first US Amazon warehouse to unionize.
JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images
- An Amazon official disclosed the grueling meeting schedule during testimony on Wednesday.
- The meeting schedule lasted from 8 a.m. until 4 a.m. the next day for six weeks.
- Unions and a federal labor-relations board have challenged employers’ use of such meetings.
Amazon held 25 mandatory anti-union meetings a day for employees at a warehouse on Staten Island, New York, in the six weeks before a union vote at the facility in March, according to testimony from an Amazon human-resources official at a federal hearing on Wednesday.
The upstart Amazon Labor Union, led by the charismatic former Amazon worker Christian Smalls, won that vote by a convincing margin. Amazon has contested the victory, alleging bias on the part of federal labor officials managing the vote and improper conduct by the union. Wednesday’s hearing was the third day of what observers expect to be weeks of testimony before a federal labor-relations official decides whether to rerun the election at that facility, called JFK8.
Amazon’s use of mandatory anti-union meetings, sometimes called captive-audience meetings, has come under scrutiny in recent months as the company has battled union campaigns in Staten Island and Bessemer, Alabama. The general counsel for the National Labor Relations Board, the federal agency overseeing union activities, said in April that she believed captive-audience meetings violated federal labor law.
An Amazon spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Captive-audience meetings have been a cornerstone of Amazon’s anti-union strategy, as they are for many employers battling union campaigns. Of three union elections at Amazon warehouses this spring, only one, at JFK8, was successful. The company prevailed in elections at another Staten Island facility, LDJ5, and in Bessemer.
At JFK8, the meeting schedule ran nearly nonstop from 8 a.m. until 4 a.m. every day in the six weeks before the election, according to the testimony of an Amazon employee who helped lead the company’s anti-union campaign at the facility.
Amazon workers on Staten Island who previously spoke with Insider said they were required to attend as many as two meetings a week. In Bessemer and Staten Island, some workers repeated talking points from the meetings verbatim to explain why they planned to vote against the union.
Jennifer De Jesus, who works at the LDJ5 facility, previously told Insider that during Amazon’s meetings, the company was “trying to scare you.”
“They’re talking about how the benefits we have before the vote might vanish,” she said. “I’m not saying that what they’re giving isn’t enough. But the union is there to give you more.”
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Contact reporter Katherine Long via the encrypted messaging app Signal (+1-206-375-9280) or email ([email protected]).