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Other View: Settling for more: The National Labor Relations Board’s agreement with Amazon is a watershed

Consumers are coming around to the idea that the convenience of the platform’s many services does not outweigh its responsibility to treat workers with dignity and humanity.

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A vote sign hangs outside the Amazon.com, Inc. fulfillment center in Bessemer, Alabama on March 26, 2021.
Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images/TNS

It’s rare for a company with the size and power of Amazon to experience anything resembling capitulation to regulatory authority, which is why it was such a welcome surprise for the National Labor Relations Board to have reached a wide-ranging settlement with the e-commerce giant. Among other things the agreement mandates that the company notify current and former warehouse workers about their full suite of rights and permit greater labor organizing in its workplaces, such as by barring it from ejecting employees from worksites 15 minutes after the end of their shift.

The agreement would also do away with onerous requirements for the NLRB to establish that Amazon has violated the agreed-upon terms, and make it easier for the regulatory body to sue the company if and when it does. In a significant symbolic step, Amazon did not get to insert language explicitly absolving itself of prior wrongdoing, as it has in prior such settlements.

That the global corporation felt it had to no choice but to sign the dotted line is as clear a sign as any that it understands the gradual turn of public opinion against it, supercharged by disasters like the deaths of employees at an Illinois warehouse battered by a tornado, reportedly after being told they would lose their jobs if they heeded the blaring storm warning sirens. The company suffered significant hits to its credibility after allegations of persistent targeting of union organizers and the invalidation of a union election in Bessemer, Ala., due to tampering with the process.

Consumers are coming around to the idea that the convenience of the platform’s many services does not outweigh its responsibility to treat workers with dignity and humanity, and to permit them to organize and bargain collectively in the manner that they see fit after legally-protected union drives and elections. This settlement will pave the way for clean and fair processes in sites like its massive fulfillment center on Staten Island, where enough workers have signed union cards to trigger an election.

©2021 New York Daily News
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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