Amazon Joins SpaceX in Fight to Declare U.S. Labor Board ‘Unconstitutional’

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Amazon has broken federal labor laws repeatedly and has been accused countless times of being a terrible employer. As such, it should surprise literally no one that the e-commerce giant has joined a chorus of other craven corporations to claim that the National Labor Relations Board is “unconstitutional.”

The NLRB, formed in 1935 in the wake of the Great Depression, is the government agency tasked with protecting workers from corporate abuse by enforcing the nation’s labor laws. It tracks, then, that Amazon, which keeps breaking said laws, doesn’t think that such a government agency should exist.

In a court filing on Thursday, Amazon argued that the NLRB is “unconstitutional,” alleging that the agency, which is currently investigating the company for numerous labor violations, had violated its rights. Specifically, Amazon argued that the agency had violated its Fifth Amendment right to due process. If you’ll recall, the Fifth Amendment was designed to protect individuals—that is, people—from being deprived of certain protections when accused of a crime. Amazon appears to be arguing that, in the course of being investigated for allegedly treating its workers like shit, it has suffered some sort of constitutional injustice. Furthermore, Amazon has argued that, by its very structure, the NLRB had broken with the Constitution. The filing states:

“The structure of the NLRB violates the separation of powers because its Administrative Law Judges are insulated from presidential oversight by at least two layers of ‘for case’ removal protection, thus impeding the executive power provided for in Article II of the United States Constitution…”

Tbh, I’m not entirely sure what that’s supposed to mean. All I hear is: I don’t like the federal agency that keeps calling me on my bullshit and I wish it would go away. Amazon is just one of several companies that have made this argument in recent times. Other offenders include Trader Joe’s and Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

If this sounds like a whacko legal theory, people close to the labor movement are notably more concerned. Vice News quotes Seth Goldstein, an attorney representing several Amazon workers who were fired due to their unionizing efforts at the company, as saying:

“They want to knock down the whole process and make it impossible for us to organize, because if they’re successful in what they’re doing, the board won’t be able to issue any decisions. They’re going for everything. They think that Trump is going to get elected—this is what the 2024 election needs to be about.”

In December, the NLRB ruled that Amazon had broken federal labor laws in 2022 when it threatened and “interrogated” workers who were trying to organize a union at the company’s warehouse in New York. CNBC notes that Amazon “illegally confiscated organizing pamphlets from employees that were being distributed in on-site breakrooms and conducted surveillance of employees’ organizing activities.” The company has faced over 250 NLRB complaints in regards to labor law violations, Reuters notes.

Gizmodo reached out to Amazon for comment and will update this post if it responds.

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