- Amazon pushed the USPS to install the mailbox in a warehouse according to emails obtained by a union.
- The mailbox could be seen as a tactic to deter workers from voting to join unions.
- The union could argue for overthrowing a negative voting result by quoting emails.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Amazon pushed the U.S. Postal Service to install a mailbox outside its warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, according to emails obtained by a Freedom of Information Act request from a union and first reported by The Washington Post.
Over the past seven weeks, employees have been voting on whether to form the first Amazon union in the United States. Emails could affect union voting in the warehouse after they were obtained by Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), The Post reported.
The group is working to represent nearly 6,000 Amazon employees on the Alabama site in a historic union battle that could set a precedent for other companies.
According to the union, more than 3,000 workers cast ballots and hundreds have been challenged, mostly by Amazon. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) began its public vote count on Thursday.
The union has previously filed complaints about the mailbox when the mailbox was installed in February, not long before the start of the mail-in voting process at the warehouse.
When the mailbox was set up, Amazon blew up workers with emails and texts asking them to “vote no”
At the time, the union said 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, NLRB rejected the company’s request that employees vote in person at the warehouse. Instead, the organization chose to only allow workers to vote by mail.
The Washington Post reported that if the union lost the vote, emails – which showed Amazon asking the USPS to get the mailbox up as soon as possible – could be used to challenge the outcome of the vote, as it could be seen as a tactic to prevent workers in to vote.
“We said from the start that we wanted all employees to vote, and suggested many different options to try to make it easy,” an Amazon spokesman told Insider. “RWDSU fought them at every turn and pushed for a mail-only election, which 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 create it easy for employees to vote, no more and no less. “
“The box that was installed – a centralized box unit (CBU) with a collection space – was proposed by the postal service as a solution to provide an efficient and secure delivery and collection location,” a USPS spokesman told Insider.
RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum told The Washington Post that emails showed Amazon felt it was “above the law.”
“They did this because it provided a clear opportunity to intimidate workers,” Appelbaum said.
Amazon has historically traded against union in its stocks and has used tactics such as. Posting union signs at its warehouses and holding meetings designed to convince workers to vote against the union.