NLRB says Amazon CEO Andy Jassy violated labor laws

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Amazon CEO Andy Jassy speaks with CNBC’s Jon Fortt.

CNBC

Amazon CEO Andy Jassy violated federal labor laws when he remarked in recent interviews that employees could be negatively affected by unions, a federal labor agency said.

In a complaint late Wednesday, the National Labor Relations Board pointed to comments Jassy made in an April interview with CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin on “Squawk Box” and a June interview at the Bloomberg Tech Summit.

Jassy told CNBC that if employees were to vote in a union, they may be less empowered in the workplace and things would become “much slower” and “more bureaucratic.”

“I also think people are better off having direct connections with their managers,” Jassy said. “You know, you think about work differently. You have relationships that are different.”

He echoed those comments in the Bloomberg interview, saying workers would be “better off without a union.”

Jassy’s comments resulted in him “interfering with, restraining, and coercing employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed” in the National Labor Relations Act, said Ronald Hooks, regional director of the NLRB’s Seattle office, in the complaint.

Amazon must respond to the NLRB complaint by Nov. 8, and the office has scheduled a hearing for Feb. 7. The complaint also requests that Amazon mail and email workers a notice informing them of their labor rights.

Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel told CNBC in a statement: “These allegations are completely without merit, and the comments in question are clearly protected by express language of the National Labor Relations Act and decades of NLRB precedent. The comments lawfully explain Amazon’s views on unionization and the way it could affect the ability of our employees to deal directly with their managers, and they began with a clear recognition of our employees’ right to organize and in no way contained threats of reprisal.”

The complaint comes as Amazon continues to face an uptick in organizing activity among its warehouse and delivery workforce. Last week, Amazon workers at a fulfillment center near Albany rejected unionization.

The Amazon Labor Union, which filed an unfair-labor-practice charge with the NLRB over Jassy’s comments, on Tuesday objected to the results of the Albany election, saying Amazon’s conduct “destroyed any possibility for the Region to conduct a free and fair election” and chilled union efforts.

The ALU achieved a historic victory in April when workers at a Staten Island warehouse voted to join the union. Since then, the grassroots group has lost two union elections, and a nascent effort to organize a California warehouse has stalled.

WATCH: Watch CNBC’s full interview with Amazon CEO Andy Jassy on his first annual letter to shareholders

Watch CNBC's full interview with Amazon CEO Andy Jassy on first annual letter to shareholders

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