If safety was the biggest issue for technicians, there was also concern over pay equity – the machinery said they were paid different amounts to do the same work – and about the lack of control over their fate. Part of Mr. Hof’s pitch was that a management would make management less arbitrary.
“One man, I remember his name was Bob,” he said. “They put Bob in the control room, and the next thing I saw was Bob coming down the steps. He took off his work vest. I said, ‘Bob, where are you going?’ They said, ‘They finished me.’ I asked why not. That was the way. “
Many technicians said they were told in a meeting, “You vote a union, everyone of you will be looking for a job tomorrow.” According to Mr. Hof and a union memo, the second most vocal union supporters were described as “a cancer and disease for the Amazon and convenience”. (In a filing to the Labor Board, Amazon said it had investigated the incident and “concluded it could not be confirmed.”
Mr Howe, a cancer survivor, said the reference angered him. He refused to attend another meeting conducted by that manager. She said that she knew in any case what she was going to say: because the union was canceling the election because she thought it would lose. Amazon had won.
On March 30, 2015, Mr. Hof received a written warning from his manager, Mr. Frye.
“Your behavior has been called by peers / leaders who are negatively impacted,” it said. Amazon included under “Insult” was refused to participate in the declaration of victory. Another incident, Amazon said, could result in termination.
The Machinist Union filed a complaint with the Board of Labor in July 2015 alleging inappropriate labor behavior by Amazon, including conducting surveys, threatening and “informing employees that voting for union representation would be futile.” Mr. Hof spent eight hours that summer giving his testimony. Although labor activists and unions generally consider the board to be tilted in favor of employers, union officials said the formal protest would at least show Chester technicians that someone was fighting for them.
In early 2016, Amazon entered into an agreement with the board. The main thrust of the two-page settlement was that Amazon would post an employee notice promising good behavior while accepting anything.