In a recent ruling, the U.S. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) made a significant decision regarding the employment termination of two former Amazon employees. Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa had been advocating for better working conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic and accused the company of discriminatory practices and ambiguous policies that hindered employees from exercising their rights.

The NLRB found that Amazon had illegally terminated the employment of Cunningham and Costa. It stated that if the involved parties fail to reach a settlement, the regional director in Seattle will issue a complaint. This ruling holds great importance for Amazon, as it coincides with a workers’ vote in Bessemer, Alabama, to determine whether the warehouse there will become the company’s first unionized facility in the United States.

Cunningham and Costa had previously gained attention for their efforts in pressuring Amazon to address climate change. They further raised concerns about the company’s pandemic safety protocols and even fundraised for warehouse staff who were at high risk of contracting COVID-19.

Amazon responded to the ruling by stating that it supports workers’ rights to criticize work conditions. However, the company emphasized that criticizing work conditions does not excuse employees from violating internal policies. Amazon claimed that it terminated Cunningham and Costa for repeatedly violating these policies, although it did not provide specific details regarding the policies in question. The two former employees have not yet commented on the ruling.

Marc Perrone, the international president of the UFCW union, whose local unit assisted in filing the charge against Amazon, emphasized the significance of the NLRB ruling. Perrone stated that it serves as a reminder that Amazon will go to the extent of breaking the law in order to silence its own workers who speak out. The New York Times was the first to report on this story.

Useful links:
1. More information about workers’ rights and the NLRB can be found at https://www.nlrb.gov/.
2. To explore the ongoing debate surrounding Amazon’s labor practices, you can visit https://www.amazonlaborunion.org/.