Amazon and Former Worker-Activists Settle Retaliatory Termination Charges

On Wednesday, The New York Times reported that a pair of women settled allegations that e-commerce giant Amazon illegally fired them for speaking up about climate change concerns and warehouse working conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a statement put out by the ex-Amazon designers Maren Costa and Emily Cunningham, Amazon will be required to pay their lost wages and inform all corporate and warehouse employees that Amazon cannot fire workers for organizing and exercising their rights.

As previously reported, Costa and Cunningham first organized in 2018 when they brought attention to Amazon’s reliance on fossil fuels and gained support from thousands of other employees. When the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, the pair raised questions about the safety of Amazon’s warehouses.

After Costa and Cunningham made provisions for warehouse workers to convey working condition concerns to tech employees at an internal event, Amazon fired them. This April, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) determined that Amazon retaliated against two tech employees and filed a case against it, according to the article by The New York Times’ Karen Weise.

The NLRB purportedly charged the company with enforcing a facially neutral policy in a disparate and discriminatory manner to prevent employees from engaging in protected organizing activities. A public hearing was scheduled for earlier this week, but was postponed amidst settlement negotiations, The New York Times said.

The former employees lauded the decision as a victory for workers’ rights and implored others to join them. “Tech workers standing up together have immense power to move the biggest corporations in the world. Everything we love is threatened by climate chaos. Workers at every company need to be standing up for each other and the world, together,” Costa and Cunningham said in a statement.