Report – Amazon illegally retaliated against two of its most prominent internal critics when they were fired last year, the National Labor Relations Board determined.
Employees, Emily Cunningham and Maran Costa, had publicly pushed the company to reduce its impact on climate change and address concerns about its warehouse workers.
According to the correspondence Ms. Cunningham shared with The New York Times, the agency’s staff told Ms. Cunningham and Ms. Costa that the company would not settle the case if it improperly accused Amazon. The case will then go before an administrative law judge.
“This is a moral victory and really shows that we are on the right side of history and on the right side of the law,” Ms Cunningham said.
The two women were among dozens of Amazon workers who told the Labor Board last year about the company’s retaliation, but in most other cases workers complained about epidemic safety.
Amazon spokesman Jackie Anderson said, “We support the rights of every employee to criticize our employee’s working conditions, but it does not come with blanket immunity against our internal policies.” “We ended up having these employees not to talk publicly about working conditions, safety or stability, but to repeatedly violate internal policies.”
Claims of unfair labor practices at Amazon are general enough that the labor agency can turn them into national investigations, The agency told NBC News. The agency usually handles investigations at its regional offices.
Although Amazon’s starting wage is twice the federal minimum of $ 15 per hour, its labor practice faces scrutiny at elevated levels in Washington and elsewhere. The focus has increased over the past year, as online orders grew during the epidemic and Amazon expanded its US work force to nearly one million people. Amazon’s warehouse workers are considered essential workers and cannot work from home.
This week, the National Labor Board is counting on thousands of ballots, which would determine that about 6,000 employees would form a union in an Amazon warehouse outside Birmingham, Ala., The largest and most viable labor threat in the company’s history. The union has stated that workers face immense pressure for production and the company ensures that the quota is met.
The results could change the size of the labor movement and one of America’s largest private employers.
Ms. Costa and Ms. Cunningham, who worked as designers at Amazon’s Seattle headquarters, began publicly criticizing the company in 2018. He was part of a small group of employees who Wanted the company to do more To overcome its climatic effects. The group, an Amazon employee for climate justice, received More than 8,700 peers To Support its efforts.
Over time, Ms. Cunningham and Ms. Costa broadened their opposition. After amazon Told them that they had violated Speaking out publicly about the business, its external communication policy, his group organized 400 employees Also speaking, intentionally violating policy to make a point.
He also raised concerns about safety in Amazon’s warehouses at the onset of the epidemic. Adventuress removed Ms. Costa and Ms. Cunningham did not, last April, when their group announced an internal program for warehouse employees to talk to technical staff about the status of their workplace.
After the women were fired, several Democratic senators, including Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kamala Harris of California, Amazon wrote expressing Their concerns over possible retaliation. And Tim Bray, an Internet pioneer and a former vice president at Amazon’s Cloud Computing Group, Resigned in protest.
Mr Bray said he was pleased to hear the Labor Board’s findings and hopes Amazon settled the case. He said, “The policy so far ‘assumes nothing, accepts nothing.” “This is a chance for them to rethink that a little bit.”
Ms. Cunningham said that despite the company’s refusal, she believed that she and Ms. Costa were prime targets for Amazon because they were the most visible members of the Amazon employee for climate justice.
The Labor Board also upheld a complaint involving Jonathan Bailey, co-founder of Amazonis United, a labor advocacy group. The agency filed a complaint against Amazon based on Mr Bailey’s allegation that the company broke the law when he questioned him after a walkout last year at the Queens warehouse where he works.
“They believed that Amazon violated our rights,” Mr. Bailey said. “I think this message dictates that workers should listen and understand, yes, we are all experiencing this. But so many of us are fighting.”
Amazon settled Mr. Bailey’s case without wrongly accepting it, and agreed to post notices informing him of his rights in the break room. Amazon’s spokesperson, Ms. Anderson, said the company disagreed with the allegations leveled in Mr. Bailey’s case. “We are proud to provide an inclusive environment where employees can excel without fear of retaliation, intimidation or harassment,” she said.
Kate conger Contributed to reporting.