NY Comptroller DiNapoli, who controls $270B pension, warns Amazon over ‘anti-union' behavior

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amazon, office of the comptroller, thomas dinapoli, unions

New York state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli says he’s reminding Amazon that it must allow employees to consider forming a union. AP

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The manager of New York’s $270 billion pension fund is warning Amazon not to interfere in an upcoming union election at an Alabama facility, The Post has learned.

New York state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who manages the state’s pension fund — which holds more than $3 billion in Amazon shares — fired off a letter to the company this week amid reports that the online seller had been interfering with labor-organizing activities.

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It’s not the first time DiNapoli has raised concerns over what he says is Amazon’s anti-union behavior.

Last February, he sent a letter to then-CEO Jeff Bezos asking about reports the company was interfering with a campaign to organize a union at its Bessemer, Alabama, facility. Employees there voted against forming a union, but that vote that was invalidated by the National Labor Relations Board, which found that Amazon had intimidated employees and interfered with the election process.

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A re-vote on whether workers will form a union at the Alabama warehouse will begin next week, on Feb. 4, when ballots will be mailed to employees’ homes. Ballots are due back to the NLRB by March 28, and a final tally is expected in April.

amazon, office of the comptroller, thomas dinapoli, unions

Workers are re-voting on whether to form a union at Amazon’s facility in Bessemer, Alabama.

AP

DiNapoli’s letter this week, which is addressed to Bezos and new CEO Andy Jassy, along with other top company officials, doesn’t threaten to sell the state’s shares. The state has used its bully pulpit to try to press for change in the past: It yanked its money out of Unilever last year after its Ben & Jerry’s brand said it wouldn’t sell ice cream in “the Occupied Palestinian Territory” — drawing fury from some Israelis at the time.

It’s not likely the state would pull funds in this case. “Amazon is a profitable investment,” DiNapoli told The Post. “We want to stay invested in them, but we want them to be a good corporate citizen.”

Meanwhile, this week, the Retail, Wholesale Department Store Union, which is spearheading the union campaign at the Alabama warehouse, filed a complaint with the NLRB accusing Amazon of violating a Bessemer employee’s right to talk about the union with his co-workers.

Amazon objected to the employee, Isaiah Thomas, speaking with his colleagues about the union vote during a work break, accusing Thomas of “interfering with fellow associates during their working time, in their work areas,” according to a memo Amazon sent Thomas, which was shared with the media by the union.

amazon, office of the comptroller, thomas dinapoli, unions

The New York state pension fund yanked its money out of Unilever last year after its Ben & Jerry’s brand said it wouldn’t sell ice cream in “the Occupied Palestinian Territory.”

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“We are arguing that Amazon has already violated labor laws with respect to this election,” RWDSU spokeswoman, Chelsea Connor told The Post.

DiNapoli’s letter did not cite specific examples of Amazon’s allegedly anti-union activities, but referenced “negative publicity” that “further exacerbated the perception that Amazon is labor-unfriendly, which has raised concerns among shareholders,” according to the letter which was shared with The Post.

The comptroller is urging Amazon to adopt a “policy of neutrality” and reminded the retailer that its settlement with the NLRB last year calls for it to allow employees to “freely organize without interference or retaliation.”

Amazon did not immediately respond for comment and it also has not yet responded to the comptroller’s letter, DiNapoli said.

amazon, office of the comptroller, thomas dinapoli, unions

Workers at an Alabama facility for Amazon will vote starting next week on whether to form a union.

AP

The company is also under fire in NYC where employees are waging a campaign to organize a Staten Island warehouse. Amazon representatives allegedly told employees there that union organizers are “thugs” and that vote to form a union there is “futile” according to a Vice report, citing an NLRB complaint the publication obtained.

The complaints were filed in May and June by Amazon workers and the matter is slated to go to trial, according to the report.

“These allegations are false and we look forward to showing that through this process,” Kelly Nantel, an Amazon spokesperson, told Vice.

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