Amazon Alabama Update: The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union Thinks You’re Stupid

    (Pascal Rossignol/Reuters)

    Headed for almost certain defeat in its attempt to unionize an Amazon warehouse in Alabama, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union is accepting the result with all the grace, humility, introspection, sanity, and public-spiritedness that Donald Trump so markedly lacked last November.

    Oh, wait. Nope, it’s not:

    SEATTLE — The union trying to organize workers at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Ala., sounded a pessimistic note Thursday as a partial tally showed votes against the union with an early and widening lead.

    With about half the 3,215 ballots counted, no votes hit 1,100 while yes votes totaled 463. The count was scheduled to resume on Friday.

    “Our system is broken,” Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union President Stuart Appelbaum said in a statement Thursday night that seemed to anticipate defeat. “Amazon took full advantage of that, and we will be calling on the labor board to hold Amazon accountable for its illegal and egregious behavior during the campaign” — a reference to the National Labor Relations Board, which is overseeing the vote.

    This is straight-up Vox-ism. Your side loses an election? The system must be “broken.” A legislative chamber defies the editorial board at the New York Times? Broken. America still has states? Broken. The Supreme Court follows the law as written? Broken. Anything in the entire world happens that displeases you. Broken, broken, broken, broken.

    There is no point in having these votes if the results aren’t respected. When the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union says that it wants to “hold Amazon accountable,” it means that it wants the National Labor Relations Board to overturn the decision and demand a revote. Why? Apparently, because Amazon’s workers in Alabama, who rejected unionization in a landslide, were tricked by the existence of a . . . mailbox:

    One area on which the union probably will focus: Emails among U.S. Postal Service employees in January and February show that Amazon pressed the agency to install a mailbox outside the warehouse, a move the union contends is a violation of labor laws.

    The union has complained about the mailbox, which the Postal Service installed just before the start of mail-in balloting for the union election in early February. It has argued that the mailbox could lead workers to think Amazon has some role in collecting and counting ballots, which could influence their votes.

    Nobody really believes this — although many will pretend to, and it may be sufficient to gain the RWDSU a sympathetic audience with the NLRB. It is patently absurd. It is conspiracy theory–level thinking. It is hyper-legalism, of the strain that has led the NLRB to go after Ben Domenech for making a joke. It is sore-loserism. It is pathetic. The union lost this drive by two-to-one. It did not do so because one of the voting options included the use of a USPS mailbox.

    In and of itself, the claim is ludicrous. But it is especially ludicrous when one notes that the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union supports “card check,” which means that its institutional position is that the use of a mailbox for mail-in votes constitutes intimidation but that the abolition of the secret ballot does not.

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