Amazon employees in Maryland say they were fired for organizing workers
The company is facing fresh accusations of violating labor law.
Amazon is once again facing allegations of firing union organizers. The Washington Post reports employee group Amazonians United has filed National Labor Relations Board charges accusing Amazon of illegally firing two workers at a Maryland warehouse for labor organizing. The staff at the DMD9 delivery outpost in Upper Marlboro allegedly lost their jobs for both collecting petition signatures and promoting a large-scale walkout protest in March.
The petitions, created in August and December of 2021, pushed for improved working conditions that included healthier food, less restrictive bathroom breaks and pay raises that had been granted at other facilities. The August petition led to some changes, but Amazon's refusal to budge on the December petition prompted the March walkouts. One of the fired employees, Jackie Davis, said she was fired weeks later without a clear or justified reason.
Company spokeswoman Kelly Nantel denied any wrongdoing in a statement to The Post. Amazon fired Davis for "time theft" and not being at the facility after clocking in, the representative claimed. Nantel also maintained that worker support for a movement "doesn't factor" into terminating employment, and that the staffers simply didn't meet "basic expectations."
The charges come in the wake of numerous accusations of anti-union activity on Amazon's part. The NLRB found that Amazon illegally fired a New York union organizer last fall, while two workers at a Staten Island warehouse claimed they were fired for helping to organize the first successful Amazon union election. The tech pioneer has also been accused of intimidation tactics that include threats of lower pay, labeling labor organizers as "thugs" and multiple attempts at interfering with union votes. In 2021, Amazon spent $4.3 million on consultants known for thwarting unionization campaigns.
Whatever the reasons for these latest firings, it may be difficult for Amazon to avoid pressure to change. Amazonians United has secured some improvements by replacing conventional union strategies with grassroots relationship building and pressing for smaller material gains. This won't necessarily lead to more successful unionization efforts, but it won't be surprising if there are more reforms.