Discover more from Fred Klonsky in Retirement
The NLRB cell phone ban. Amazon blames the dead workers.
When I first started teaching in 1984 I would jokingly tell friends that two ways you could tell that teachers weren’t considered professionals by administration was that we didn’t have phones in our room and we didn’t have air conditioning.
The principal had both.
There were several dial up phones around the building for teacher use. If you needed to call a parent or take care of some other business you had to run to the little telephone room during your planning period.
After about ten years of teaching the district installed phones in the room.
Not long after that cellular phones came on the market. My first one was a boxy Motorola with a huge battery pack and an extendable antenna. It looked like something from a battlefield scene from an old World War II movie.
A bunch of the teachers in my building bought one from a sixth grade student whose dad was in the market.
My building didn’t get air conditioning until the year I retired.
Cell phones in the work place are on my mind today because six Amazon workers died in the Edwardsville warehouse and one of the reasons may have been that Amazon returned to their policy of banning cell phones in the workplace.
Banning cell phones in the workplace has a back story.
Language in the National Labor Relations Act says that employees have a Section 7 right to communicate with each other through non-Employer monitored channels during lunch or break periods.
An administrative judge had ruled before Trump took over the NLRB that Section 7 protected employee rights to have a cell phone while on the job.
Under the Trump administration the NLRB overruled the administrative judge and said that the only question was whether the manufacturer’s business justifications outweighed the impact on Section 7 worker rights. The Trump NLRB said that they did.
Amazon then returned to the old company policy banning cell phones on the job.
On the day of the disaster cell phone warnings were issued half an hour before the tornado hit the Amazon warehouse but workers couldn’t receive the warning to seek safe shelter.
Since being elected president Joe Biden has replaced a majority of the NLRB with pro-labor appointments.
None of these appointments were in time to repeal the cell phone ban that the NLRB put in place in May of 2020.
In the wake of the Edwardsville warehouse disaster Amazon is making up all kinds of excuses, including blaming the dead workers themselves.
Six that died in Edwardsville, Illinois Amazon warehouse were not in the designated shelter in place: Amazon spokeswoman said that the designated shelter in place is an interior section of the warehouse not a room. The workers who gathered there survived and the 6 persons who died were on the south side of the building where the tornado struck.
Amazon workers have reported that managers directed them to shelter on the south side of the building in bathrooms that were not designed as tornado shelters.
All this deserves a full investigation.