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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Amazon violated nationwide worker rights’ settlement, U.S. labor board alleges

Employees work at Amazon’s Airway Heights fulfillment center on June 7, 2021, in Airway Heights.  (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)
By Josh Eidelson Bloomberg Inc. was accused by U.S. officials of violating the terms of a labor board settlement, teeing up an expedited process for the government to consider claims that the company illegally tried to suppress union organizing.

In a complaint issued Thursday, a regional director of the National Labor Relations Board accused the internet retailer of breaching obligations under a 2021 settlement.

The accord required the company to let workers stay on its premises after their shifts in order to organize.

Under the settlement, the agency’s general counsel can seek a default judgment on those allegations from labor board members in Washington without trial or other proceedings.

The complaint, which Bloomberg News obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request, says Amazon should be forced to stop enacting or enforcing rules that unlawfully interfere with workers’ rights, and to issue emails and post physical notices for employees nationwide about their rights.

“We’ve fully complied with the settlement agreement, which we voluntarily entered into in December 2021,” Mary Kate Paradis, an Amazon spokesperson, said Friday in an email.

“This complaint has no merit and contradicts the very same regional office who confirmed our full compliance with the agreement and closed the cases over a year ago.”

The NLRB lacks authority to impose punitive damages or hold executives personally liable for violations, and its rulings may be appealed to federal court.

The settlement was related to agency allegations that Amazon issued an unlawful policy nationwide in 2020, requiring staff to leave its property within 15 minutes after the end of their shift.

According to the agency, it later enforced that policy at sites in Illinois and New York where employees were organizing by ordering workers to leave or threatening to call police when they didn’t comply.

The Amazon Labor Union, which pulled off a historic upset when it won a unionization vote at a warehouse in New York’s Staten Island, has said the settlement played a key role in its success.