The National Labor Relations Board has found that Amazon illegally terminated two of its corporate employees last year who had been vocal critics of the company.
The employees named Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa, organized workers around climate action and warehouse conditions in the pandemic before they were terminated in April 2020.
The federal agency remarked that it would issue a complaint if the case were not settled, as per The New York Times.
Cunningham, one of the two fired employees, said on Monday that she “couldn’t be happier with the news today.”
“It is a moral victory, and it feels incredible to be not only on the right side of history but the right side of the law,” she mentioned. “Amazon tried to silence workers, and it hasn’t worked. We’re actually stronger than ever. Organizing continues to grow at Amazon.”
In the interim, Amazon (AMZN) seemed to protect its terminations of the employees. Amazon spokesperson Jaci Anderson shared with The Times that it “terminated these employees not for talking publicly about working conditions, safety or sustainability but, rather, for repeatedly violating internal policies.”
“We support every employee’s right to criticize their employer’s working conditions, but that does not come with blanket immunity against our internal policies, all of which are lawful,” Anderson remarked.
The news arrives when the company has been bravely hostile towards critics of its workplace conditions, more so for the work situations of its warehouse employees. A union election at a warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, has once again brought into light the realities of working for Amazon and has gained national attention from influential figures, including President Joe Biden, Senator Bernie Sanders and voting rights activist Stacey Abrams. The vote, a total of which began last Tuesday -will decide if the workers will make Amazon’s first US-based union in its almost 27-year history.
Cunningham and Costa, both user experience designers, are founding members of Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, a group of corporate employees that initially formed to campaign on climate issues. The group persists in speaking out on issues while offering its support to the workers seeking to unionize.
Cunningham and Costa’s assertion is the latest Amazon worker vengeance that the federal agency has found merit in. In November, the NLRB launched a complaint against Amazon for the illegal termination of a Pennsylvania warehouse worker. As per the analysis of NLRB data by NBC News, there has been a minimum of 37 retribution charges filed to the agency against Amazon over 20 cities since February 2020. While the pandemic has been a massive benefit for Amazon’s business, safety measure related to the virus and general workplace conditions have also been an aspect behind a more general employee uprising at its facilities. NBC News stated that NLRB is considering whether it may merge the allegations given the number of similar complaints.
At the time, Cunningham and Costa’s firing resulted in the resignation of Amazon engineer and vice president Tim Bray. In a lengthy blog post about his leaving, Bray said he “quit in dismay at Amazon firing whistleblowers who were making noise about warehouse employees frightened of Covid-19.”
“Firing whistleblowers isn’t just a side-effect of macroeconomic forces, nor is it intrinsic to the function of free markets. It’s evidence of a vein of toxicity running through the company culture,” Bray remarked. “I choose neither to serve nor drink that poison.”