Amazon fired a number of senior managers from its JFK8 warehouse in Staten Island on Thursday, only a month after workers voted to unionize. The New York Times reported that the company axed more than half a dozen senior-level workers on Thursday, many of who were involved in union organizing. A number of anonymous employees told the NYT that they believed the firings were retaliatory. JFK8 is the first and currently the only unionized Amazon warehouse in the US.
In a statement to Engadget, Amazon said the workers were fired as a result of “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. Over the last several weeks, we’ve spent time evaluating aspects of the operations and leadership at JFK8 and, as a result, have made some management changes.”
Other Amazon workers have recently gotten the pink slip, allegedly due to their union involvement. Just a couple of weeks ago, four recently terminated Amazon employees filed charges with the NLRB, alleging that they were being punished for supporting a union. Last month the NLRB ordered Amazon to reinstate Gerald Bryson, a worker at the JFK8 facility who was fired due to what Amazon alleged was his violation of a company language policy. But the NLRB’s judge was not convinced by this argument, and accused Amazon of performing a “skewed investigation” of Bryson and retaliating against him for his union work.
Just yesterday, Amazon Labor Union president Chris Smalls testified before the Senate Budget Committee and met with President Joe Biden. The Biden administration has expressed reserved support for unionization efforts by Amazon, Starbucks and other workers.
In his testimony before the Senate, Smalls argued that the federal government should avoid awarding Amazon contracts due to its labor practices. “We cannot allow Amazon or any other employer to receive taxpayer money if they engage in illegal union-busting behavior and deny workers’ rights,” said Smalls.
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