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Amazon’s nationwide NLRB settlement makes it easier for workers to organize

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The deal includes specific requirements to inform employees of their rights

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Amazon has reached a nationwide settlement for six National Labor Relations Board cases, agreeing to notify workers of their rights and let workers organize on company property outside of their shift time. According to a report by The New York Times, the company previously didn’t allow employees to be around its warehouse, delivery, or other facilities more than 15 minutes before or after their shifts, making it more difficult to organize with co-workers.

The agreement, which you can read here or below, requires Amazon to notify its workers that it’s legally obligated to let them create or join a union and that it can’t retaliate against them for protected actives or staying on company property after their shift for organizational activities. The settlement also stipulates how Amazon will post the notice — the company will have to:

  • Email the notice to anyone who worked at its facilities since March 22nd.
  • Post it “in prominent places” in its US “fulfillment centers, sortation centers, receive centers, specialty, and delivery stations.”
  • Make it available on the news alert page of its A to Z app for workers and its website.

The settlement also looks to prevent Amazon from only posting the notice during a holiday period where workers aren’t actually present (like Apple allegedly did with a notification about workers’ rights to discuss pay and working conditions). The agreement requires Amazon to keep the notifications up for “60 consecutive days” when most employees are working. It’ll also have to prove to the NLRB that it’s complying with the order.

Amazon faces a growing workers’ rights movement. Earlier this month, warehouse workers in Staten Island walked out to protest the company’s labor practices and filed a petition to run a unionization election. Amazon workers in Bessemer, Alabama, voted against unionizing in April, but the NLRB recently said the election has to be re-done, citing objections claiming Amazon had inappropriately interfered with the election.

While it’s hard to say how much this new settlement will any current or future union drives, it seems like a clear signal from the NLRB that it has a close eye on Amazon to make sure the company is following labor laws.

Amazon didn’t immediately respond to The Verge’s request for comment on the settlement. NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo said in an emailed statement that “this settlement agreement provides a crucial commitment from Amazon to millions of its workers across the United States that it will not interfere with their right to act collectively to improve their workplace by forming a union or taking other collective action. Working people should know that the National Labor Relations Board will vigorously seek to ensure Amazon’s compliance with the settlement and continue to defend the labor rights of all workers.”

Update, December 23rd 2:15 PM ET: Added statement from the NLRB’s general counsel.