The National Labor Relations Board concluded that Amazon (AMZN) - Get Report last year illegally fired two employees who'd criticized the online-retail and tech giant's climate impact, media reports say.
Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa, who worked as designers, lost their jobs after acting as part of a group, Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, to urge the Seattle company “to do more to address its climate impact,” The New York Times reported.
Cunningham and Costa cooperated with the NLRB, which said it would “accuse Amazon of unfair labor practices if the company did not settle the case,” Cunningham told the publication.
The women have been criticizing Amazon publicly since 2018, the New York Times said. They have been involved in several forms of protest, including:
- Helping their climate-change activist group get over 8,700 colleagues to support its efforts.
- Helping the group organize 400 employees to speak out publicly against climate change.
- Raising concerns about safety in Amazon’s warehouses at the start of the pandemic.
- Organizing an internal event for warehouse workers to speak to tech employees about their workplace conditions.
Amazon said it fired the two staffers for violating “its external communications policy by speaking publicly about the business,” The New York Times said.
“We support every employee’s right to criticize their employer’s working conditions, but that does not come with blanket immunity against our internal policies, all of which are lawful,” Amazon spokeswoman Jaci Anderson told the publication.
“We terminated these employees not for talking publicly about working conditions, safety or sustainability but, rather, for repeatedly violating internal policies,” she added.
Amazon and its employees in Bessemer, Ala., are awaiting the results of the first attempt to unionize at the company.
The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union issued a statement on behalf of its Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union affiliate, which is trying to organize the Bessemer facility:
"Amazon’s illegal retaliation against these whistleblowers makes the Amazon union election in Alabama even more urgent as Bessemer employees exercise their right to make their voices heard," the UFCW said.
At last check Amazon shares were trading 2.1% higher, above $3,228.