Amazon and SpaceX are quietly trying to demolish national labor law

Amazon alleged in a legal filing published Friday morning that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is unconstitutional. SpaceX and Trader Joe’s — companies that, like Amazon, have repeatedly faced labor law violations from the federal agency — have recently made similar attacks that threaten national worker protections.

This is just Amazon’s latest attempt to block union organizing in its fulfillment centers. But this time, these companies aren’t just limiting the rights of their own workers. If these threats against the NLRB keep moving forward, American workers could lose workplace protections that they’ve had for almost a century.

“It’s a crock of s–t,” said Seth Goldstein, the legal counsel for Trader Joe’s United and the Amazon Labor Union. “I don’t believe any of it, and I think it’s just a cover to bust unions.”

Amazon claims that the NLRB’s structure is unconstitutional because administrative law judges are “insulated from presidential oversight,” thus violating the separation of powers. The company also argues against the structure of NLRB itself, as well as its ability to fine a company for unfair labor practices after a hearing, rather than a full jury trial.

Amazon did not respond to request for comment.

“Judges need protections to remain independent, just like federal judges. You can’t remove federal judges,” Goldstein told TechCrunch. The complaint about a lack of jury trials for companies may seem less dubious, but Goldstein still thinks it’s a stretch. “At the end of the day, the courts do have jurisdiction over decisions by the board. So what are they complaining about?”

Like other federal agencies, the NLRB is largely shaped by the current president. Under President Joe Biden, who refers to himself as pro-worker, the NLRB has been friendly toward workers’ causes. But as the 2024 election looms, a Republican administration could significantly change that, making it more likely for corporations to be successful in attempts to strike down long-standing labor law.

“I do believe that this is a real threat to workers, especially if Donald Trump gets elected,” Goldstein said.

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