Failed Amazon union effort renews call for updated U.S. labor laws

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WASHINGTON, April 9 (Reuters) - A failed attempt to unionize (AMZN.O) warehouse workers shows why Congress needs to pass proposed legislation to protect labor unions against corporations' anti-organizing efforts, Democratic lawmakers and labor activists said Friday.

Democratic Representative Bobby Scott, who chairs the House Education and Labor Committee, urged the Senate to pass the PRO Act which passed the House last month to make it more difficult for companies to interfere with union organizing.

The Protecting the Right to Organize Act would allow unions to collect dues from non-members covered by their contracts and forbid companies from holding mandatory meetings to lobby against a union, among other measures.

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"America's workers will not have consistent access to free, fair, and safe union elections until we strengthen our nation’s labor laws. We cannot continue allowing employers to interfere with workers' decision whether or not to form a union," Scott said in a statement.

Efforts to unionize workers in Alabama were defeated by a big margin on Friday but the union was set to challenge the results in part because of what it said was Amazon pressure on the U.S. Postal Service to put a mailbox outside the warehouse and then pushing employees to use that mailbox to vote. read more

Representative Andy Levin, a Democrat, said that Amazon win would likely backfire. "Without knowing it, they are igniting a movement to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act," he added.

But the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, which includes the Chamber of Commerce and other big industry groups, argued that unions supported workers in the past but now "simply want to use political influence to change all the rules to help themselves win elections and pad union dues."

The Economic Policy Institute noted the key role that Amazon workers played in the pandemic, said they deserved "a fair election," and called for the PRO Act to become law.

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Reporting by Diane Bartz and Hilary Russ Editing by Nick Zieminski

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