Amazon Fires Senior Managers Tied to Unionized Staten Island Warehouse

After Amazon’s sweeping victory at the giant warehouse on Staten Island last month, it turned union leaders into celebrities, sent shockwaves through a massive labor movement, and encouraged politicians across the country to rally behind Amazon workers. Now it seems to have risen even in Amazon’s management rank.

On Thursday, Amazon notified more than half a dozen senior managers associated with the Staten Island warehouse that they were being fired, said four current and former employees who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.

The firing outside the company’s typical employee review cycle was seen by managers and others as a response to Amazon Labor Union’s victory, the three said. In the biggest win for organized labor in at least one generation, warehouse workers voted by a wide margin to form the first union in the company in the United States.

Word spread in the warehouse on Thursday. Many managers were responsible for handling the company’s response to the union’s efforts. According to their LinkedIn profiles, some of the company had more than six years of experience.

Workers who supported the union and the company’s health and safety protocols were very lax, especially because they were related to Covid-19 and recurrent stress injuries, and the company pushed them too hard to meet operational goals, many times over. At sufficient cost. . Many also said that wagehouse wages, starting at $ 18 per hour for full-time workers, were too low to live in New York City.

A spokesman for Amazon said the company had made changes to management after spending several weeks evaluating aspects of its “operations and leadership” for JFK8, the company’s name for the warehouse. “Part of our culture on Amazon is to constantly improve, and we believe it’s important for our team to take the time to review whether we’re doing the best we can,” said Kelly Nantel, a spokeswoman.

Managers were told they were being fired as part of an “organizational change,” two people said. One person said some managers were strong performers who had recently received positive reviews.

The Staten Island Facility is Amazon’s sole fulfillment center in New York City, and plans to create an upstart, independent union of current and former workers at the facility for one year.

The company is challenging the election, saying the union’s unconventional tactics were coercive and that the National Labor Relations Board was biased in favor of the union. And the union is working to maintain pressure on Amazon so it will negotiate a deal.

Christian Smalls, president of the Amazon Labor Union, testified before a Senate committee on Thursday that it was looking into whether companies violating 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 force his union to recognize Amazon.

A White House spokesman said it was up to the National Labor Relations Board to certify the results of the recent election but assured that Mr. Biden has long advocated for collective bargaining and workers’ union rights.

Amazon has said it has invested $ 300 million in safety projects in 2021 alone and is offering full-time workers a higher salary than the minimum wage with tangible benefits, such as health care, upon joining the company.

More than 8,000 workers at the warehouse were eligible to vote, and the union raised the issue of reaching out to employees of various ethnic groups, including African Americans, Latinos and immigrants from Africa and Asia, as well as people of various political persuasions. Conservative to progressive.

Company officials and advisers held more than 20 mandatory daily meetings with employees as part of the election, in which they tried to persuade workers not to support the union. Officials highlighted the amount the union would collect from them and the uncertainty of the collective bargaining, which they said could make workers worse.

Labor experts say such claims can be misleading because it is extremely unusual for workers to see a reduction in their returns as a result of a bargaining process.

Nearly a month after the union’s victory over JFK8, Amazon workers at a nearby small facility voted against the union by a crucial margin.

The votes came during what could be a disruption point for organized labor. While union membership rates reached their lowest level in decades last year (about 10 percent of U.S. workers), applications for union elections were up 50 percent during the six months to March, compared to last year, according to the National Labor Relations Board. The number of applications is on track to reach its peak in at least a decade.

Since December, Starbucks workers have won early union votes at more than 50 stores across the country, while workers have tried to organize or organize in other non-union companies such as Apple and outdoor apparel retailer REI.

Grace Ashford Contribution Report. Sheilag McNeil Contributed to research.

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