Two Amazon warehouse workers who were involved with a campaign to unionise the retail giant’s compound in Staten Island were fired within the last week following two union elections at the company’s New York City facilities.
The terminations also come as the company fired several senior managers at the compound’s JFK8 warehouse, where workers who sought to join a union won the first successful US union election within the world’s largest online retailer on 1 April.
The results of that election brought international attention to the facility’s 8,300 workers, and the upstart Amazon Labor Union’s campaign gained support from members of Congress and workers and union leaders from across the US.
On 2 May, a majority of workers at the LDJ5 facility next door voted against unionising, but days later, union president Christian Smalls testified to members of Congress about Amazon’s anti-union efforts and joined a panel on unions at the White House, where he met Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
Union organizers Tristan Dutchin and Mat Cusick said they were fired last week over job performance issues and Covid-19 sick leave, respectively.
Mr Cusik, who also serves as the union’s communications director, said he was locked out of his employee account following a 13-day leave related to Covid-19.
On 4 May, he received a letter from Amazon with notice that he was fired “due to job abandonment,” according to a copy of the letter viewed by CNBC.
Mr Dutchin, who was featured in prominent press coverage about the union campaign, said he was fired for failing to meet the company’s productivity goals, which require employees to pick hundreds of packages per hour, though he has since received additional training after an earlier warning and was congratulated for his improvements by a supervisor.
A statement from Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel shared with The Granthshala said Mr Cusik “failed to show up for work since an approved leave ended in late April, despite our team reaching out to him and even extending his leave” while Mr Dutchin received “five warnings since last summer for performance issues and was consistently performing in the bottom [3 per cent] compared to his peers, despite being offered additional training.”
“We work hard to accommodate our team’s needs, but like any employer, we ask our employees to meet certain minimum expectations and take appropriate action when they’re unable to do that,” according to the statement.
Mr Dutchin told Vicewhich first reported the firings, that he believes his termination was “retaliatory.”
“Amazon knows that I’m making national headlines. They could see all my interviews with the press,” he said.
Amazon had previously fired two employees – including Mr Smalls – who helped stage a walkout to protest the company’s allegedly inadequate Covid-19 safety protocols, a protest that ignited the campaign to unionise their workplace.
Last month, an administrative judge ordered Amazon to reinstate one of the men, Gerald Bryson, and pay back wages, though the company has indicated it will appeal the decision.
Amazon also fired union organizer Daequan Smith, who commuted from a homeless shelter in The Bronx to the Staten Island compound. The National Labor Relations Board has suggested his termination was illegal retaliation for his union support. That case is ongoing.
On 5 May, the company also fired several senior managers who oversaw anti-union efforts at the JFK8 facility, which they believe was in response to the union campaign, according to The New York Times.
In a statement shared with The Granthshala, Ms Nantel said Amazon made the decision to fire those managers after “evaluating aspects of the operations and leadership” at JFK8 “and, as a result, have made some management changes.”
“Part of our culture at Amazon is to continually improve, and we believe it’s important to take time to review whether or not we’re doing the best we could be for our team,” according to the statement.
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /