Amazon Argues National Labor Relations Board Is Unconstitutional

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Amazon Argues National Labor Relations Board Is Unconstitutional

In the latest sign of a growing backlash within corporate America against the 88-year-old federal agency that enforces labor rights, Amazon argued in a lawsuit Thursday that the National Labor Relations Board is unconstitutional.

The move followed a similar argument by SpaceX, the rocket company founded and led by Elon Musk, in a legal complaint in January and by Trader Joe's during a labor board hearing a few weeks later.

The Labor Commission consists of a prosecutorial division that files complaints against employers or unions that are alleged to have violated state-protected labor rights; administrative law judges who hear complaints; and a five-member panel in Washington to which decisions can be appealed.

Amazon's lawsuit was part of proceedings before an administrative law judge in which labor board prosecutors accused Amazon of illegally retaliating against workers at a Staten Island warehouse called JFK8 that unionized two years ago.

The company's lawyers repeatedly denied in their statement of claim that Amazon had violated the law. Then, in a section entitled “Other Defenses,” they argued that “the NLRB’s structure violates the separation of powers” ​​by “obstructing.” the executive power provided for in Article II of the Constitution of the United States.”

The company also argued that the board or its actions or procedures violated Articles I and III of the Constitution and the Fifth and Seventh Amendments – in the latter case because, as the filing states, remedies were sought at board hearings that go beyond what is permissible could be a jury trial.

Amazon declined to comment.

The allegations made in the filing echo arguments that SpaceX's lawyers made in a federal lawsuit last month after the Labor Department filed a complaint accusing the company of illegally firing eight employees because of their involvement with Mr. Musk had criticized. SpaceX sued in Texas, but a federal judge there on Thursday granted the board's request to move the case to California, where the company is headquartered.

In a statement, Jennifer A. Abruzzo, the panel's general counsel, said: “I am pleased that SpaceX's apparent forum-shopping efforts in Texas that sought to compel the agency's litigation against SpaceX have failed.”

Wilma Liebman, a labor committee chairwoman under President Barack Obama, called Amazon and SpaceX's arguments “radical,” adding that “the constitutionality of the NLRB was resolved by the Supreme Court nearly 90 years ago.”

The arguments appear to be consistent with a broader conservative effort to challenge the constitutionality of various regulatory measures, some of which have led to cases before the Supreme Court.

In January, the Supreme Court also agreed to hear a case brought by Starbucks challenging a federal judge's order reinstating employees fired during a union campaign. The outcome of the case could put a stop to the labor department's longstanding practice of seeking reinstatement of workers while their cases are still being heard, a process that can take years.