Risks is the TUC's weekly newsletter for safety reps and others, sponsored by Thompsons Solicitors.
Hours before Amazon fired Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa from its Seattle HQ this month, they were among about a thousand of the company’s technology employees to accept an invitation to hear from warehouse employees about working conditions during the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to firing the women - both visible leaders of Amazon Employees for Climate Justice (AECJ) who, the company said, had repeatedly violated internal policies - Amazon deleted the calendar invitation to the online event and took disciplinary action against another employee who circulated it. The conversation went ahead anyway, featuring warehouse workers from Chicago, New York and Poland. “They clearly did not want this event to happen,” Costa, who spent 15 years at Amazon, rising to be a principal user experience designer, told the approximately 375 people watching the web conference. “They apparently do not want tech workers talking to warehouse workers. They fired us to silence you and to silence all of us.” Cunningham and Costa, who were warned in October for speaking publicly about the company without authorisation, said they circulated a petition in late March started by warehouse workers in New York. It called for improved safety protocols, closures of facilities where employees had tested positive for Covid-19 - the illness caused by the coronavirus - and enhanced benefits. The women said when they were fired on 10 April, company representatives told them it was because they violated a policy on internal solicitation, a widely ignored and rarely enforced measure. Scores of Amazon employees have tested positive for Covid-19 and at least one has died from the disease. The tech and warehouse workers mourned the death with a moment of silence at the beginning of the web conference.
CBS News. Sacramento Bee. The Guardian.
UNI news report on union action at Amazon.
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