More than half a dozen managers at Amazon’s JFK8 fulfillment center in Staten Island were abruptly fired Thursday, a month after workers at the warehouse made history by overwhelmingly voting in favor of unionizing.
“Hard to interpret this as anything other than a message to other Amazon managers: don’t let your workers unionize.”
The company claimed the terminations were part of an “organizational change,” but The New York Times reported that the fired managers and several workers believe Amazon took the action to penalize supervisors who failed to stop the unionization effort.
The managers were fired “outside the company’s typical employee review cycle,” the Times reported.
“Hard to interpret this as anything other than a message to other Amazon managers: don’t let your workers unionize,” tweeted Times reporter Kenneth Vogel.
Last month’s vote at JFK8 has garnered national attention not only for being the first successful union drive at the company, but also for being organized by a former worker who was fired in 2020 after protesting what he said were lax policies regarding Covid-19 safety.
The former worker and current Amazon Labor Union president, Christian Smalls, testified before the Senate Budget Committee Thursday about Amazon’s intimidation tactics aimed at pressuring employees out of supporting the union.
Amazon’s apparent dismissal of managers who failed to stop workers from unionizing was reported the same day that Starbucks executives complained to the White House about being left out of a meeting that pro-union President Joe Biden held with workers at the coffee chain.
Dozens of Starbucks stores across the U.S. have unionized in recent months despite an aggressive anti-union campaign by the company.
“From Starbucks to Amazon, management in disarray!” tweeted Jacobin writer Alex Press on Friday.
Amazon spent $4.3 million on anti-union consultants last year ahead of the vote at JFK8.
“If you can’t fire your recently unionized warehouse staff for unionizing, then I guess you fire the warehouse managers for failing to stop the unionization instead,” said Protocol reporter Nick Statt.
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