The National Labor Relations Board — which runs unionization recognition and elections in the U.S. — filed a complaint on Wednesday about comments made by Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, The Washington Post reported.
In the complaint, the NLRB alleged that Jassy violated labor laws by making comments about unions in press interviews in April and June.
Those interviews took place after the company’s Staten Island warehouse unionized in April, the first Amazon warehouse to do so. Amazon has pushed back against unionization efforts. It lost a bid to overturn the April union election in September.
The NLRB has already tussled with Amazon over its unionization-related practices. This complaint specifically discusses Jassy’s mid-April interview with CNBC’s Squawk Box and one he gave on Bloomberg Television in the summer.
In the CNBC one, he said, “At a place like Amazon that empowers employees… they can go meet in a room, decide how [to] change it and change it. That type of empowerment doesn’t happen when you have unions. It’s much more bureaucratic, it’s much slower. I also think people are better off having direct connections with their managers.”
Jassy made relatively similar statements in the Bloomberg interview, saying “we happen to think they’re better off without a union.”
Per labor laws, employers must follow the TIPS rule: They cannot threaten, interrogate, promise or surveil as it relates to unionization. However, employers do retain the right to express opinions about a union.
According to Bloomberg, a representative of NLRB in Seattle said Jassy was “interfering with, restraining and coercing employees” in the text of the complaint.
The complaint requests the company respond by November 8 or opt to appear in front of an administrative law judge. Amazon told Bloomberg the complaint is “completely without merit.”
An attorney for the Amazon Labor Union praised the decision and told the Post that the company was being “held accountable.”