Amazon is trying to overturn an historic vote by its US workers to form a union for its workers.
Workers at a New York warehouse voted 55% in favour of joining the Amazon Labor Union earlier this month, meaning the online retail giant would be forced to recognise a trade union for the first time.
But Amazon wants to re-run the election, listing 25 objections to the vote including claims that the union intimidated workers and handed out cannabis.
The union’s attorney, Eric Milner, called the allegations “patently absurd”.
“The employees have spoken,” he said. “Amazon is choosing to ignore that, and instead engage in stalling tactics to avoid the inevitable – coming to the bargaining table and negotiating for a contract [on behalf of the workers].”
In a legal filing containing its objections, Amazon said organisers “intentionally created hostile confrontations in front of eligible voters” by disrupting meetings where the company was trying to dissuade workers from joining the union.
It also claimed that the union had distributed cannabis among workers as an incentive to join up, adding that it “cannot condone such a practice as a legitimate method of obtaining support for a labour organisation”.
The union responded that recreational marijuana use has been legal in New York for those over 21 since last year, so offering workers cannabis was “no different than distributing free T-shirts” and did not interfere with the election.
In March, the National Labor Relations Board, which fights for fair workplace democracy and labour practices, filed a lawsuit claiming Amazon had unfairly fired an employee for his involvement in the union drive.
Amazon said the lawsuit had created an impression of support for the union, which had in turn impacted the integrity of the voting procedures.
“Based on the evidence we’ve seen so far, as set out in our objections, we believe that the actions of the NLRB and the ALU improperly suppressed and influenced the vote, and we think the election should be conducted again so that a fair and broadly representative vote can be had,“ Kelly Nantel, an Amazon spokesperson, said in a statement.
Amazon also claimed that ALU failed to control the media presence in the voting area and did not have enough staff and equipment to cope with the volume of voters.
A separate union – the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union – held a separate union drive in Alabama last month, but there are 416 challenged ballots outstanding.
The current voting status shows the majority rejecting the call to unionise, but this will be confirmed when the challenged ballots are reviewed in the coming weeks.