Amazon CEO’s anti-union comments broke federal laws, labor judge rules

Amazon CEO’s anti-union comments broke federal laws, labor judge rules


Continuing the long American tradition of wealthy corporate overlords making union-busting comments, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy went on a media blitz in 2022 to warn of the workplace-altering terrors of labor unions. (Surely, it’s an unfortunate happenstance that his urgent PSA coincided with an uptick in organizing efforts at Amazon.) Sadly for Mr. Jassy, the US still has a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), and CNBC reports that the board ruled Wednesday that his anti-union comments broke federal labor laws.

Jassy popped up on CNBC in April 2022 to say that if employees voted for and joined a union, they would become less empowered and could expect things to become “much slower” and “more bureaucratic.” In an interview with Bloomberg, he added, “If you see something on the line that you think could be better for your team or you or your customers, you can’t just go to your manager and say, ‘Let’s change it.’”

He capped off his union-busting trifecta at The New York Times DealBook conference, where the CEO said that a workplace without unions isn’t “bureaucratic, it’s not slow.”

It’s the latest in Amazon’s long history of union-busting behavior.

Amazon

NLRB Judge Brian Gee said Jassy violated labor laws by suggesting employees would be less empowered or “better off” without a union. However, Gee said the CEO’s other comments about worker-employer relationships changing were lawful. According to the judge, the difference is that the more aggressive quotes “went beyond merely commenting on the employee-employer relationship.”

Gee added that the comments “threatened employees that, if they selected a union, they would become less empowered and find it harder to get things done quickly.” The judge recommends that Amazon “cease and desist” from making similar comments in the future. The company is also required to post and share a note about the judge’s order with all of its US employees.

In December, Jassy’s Amazon shares were valued at $328 million, making him one of America’s wealthiest CEOs.

In a statement to CNBC, an Amazon spokesperson said the judge’s ruling “reflects poorly on the state of free speech rights today.” Because, hey, what kind of free country do we even have if a retail magnate can’t tell low-income workers scary bedtime stories about the perils of voting to empower themselves in the workplace?



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