After Amazon employees at a massive warehouse on Staten Island won an outraged union victory last month, it turned union leaders into celebrities, sending shockwaves through the broader labor movement and getting politicians around the country to rally behind Amazon workers. Now it also seems to have created precipitation within Amazon’s ranks.
On Thursday, Amazon informed more than half a dozen senior executives involved in the Staten Island department store that they had been fired, said four current and former employees with knowledge of the situation, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.
The firings, which took place outside the company’s typical employee review cycle, were seen by managers and other people working at the plant in response to the victory of Amazon Labor Union, three of the people said. Workers at the warehouse voted by a wide margin to form the company’s first union in the United States, in one of the largest victories of organized labor in at least one generation.
Word of the quake spread through the warehouse on Thursday. Many of the leaders had been responsible for implementing the company’s response to the union’s efforts. Several were veterans of the company, with more than six years of experience, according to their LinkedIn profiles.
Employees who supported the union complained that the company’s health and safety protocols were too lax, especially as they were related to Covid-19 and repeated strain injuries, and that the company pushed them too hard to achieve performance targets, often at the expense of adequate breaks. . Many also said that the wage in the warehouse, which starts at over $ 18 per hour for full-time employees, was too low to live on in New York City.
Understand the association work at Amazon
A spokeswoman for Amazon said the company had made management changes after spending several weeks evaluating aspects of “operations and management” at JFK8, which is the company’s name for the warehouse. “Part of our culture at Amazon is to continually improve, and we think it’s important to take the time to consider whether we’re doing the best we can for our team,” said Kelly Nantel, spokeswoman.
The leaders were told they were fired as part of an “organizational change,” two people said. One of the people said that some of the leaders were strong practitioners who recently received positive reviews.
The Staten Island facility is Amazon’s only fulfillment center in New York City, and for a year, current and former workers at the facility organized themselves to form an up-and-coming, independent union.
The company challenges the election and says that the union’s unconventional tactics were coercive and that the National Labor Relations Board was biased in the union’s favor. And the union is working to maintain the pressure on Amazon so that they will negotiate a contract.
Christian Smalls, president of the Amazon Labor Union, testified Thursday in a Senate committee that investigated whether companies that violate labor laws should be denied federal contracts. Mr. Smalls later attended a White House meeting with other labor organizers in which he directly asked President Biden to press Amazon to recognize his union.
A White House spokeswoman said it was up to the National Labor Relations Board to confirm the results of the recent election, but confirmed that Mr. Biden had long supported collective bargaining and workers’ rights to trade unions.
Amazon has said that it invested $ 300 million in security projects in 2021 alone, and that it provides a salary above the minimum wage with solid benefits such as health care for full-time employees as soon as they join the company.
The company’s officials and consultants held more than 20 mandatory meetings per day with employees ahead of the election, where they tried to persuade workers not to support the union. The officials highlighted how much money the union would collect from them and stressed the insecurity of collective bargaining, which they said could make workers worse.
Labor experts say such allegations can be misleading because it is highly unusual for workers to see compensation fall as a result of the union’s bargaining process.
This is a story in development. Come back for updates.
Grace Ashford contributed with reporting. Sheelagh McNeill contributed research.