After Amazon workers at a huge Staten Island warehouse won an upset union victory last month, it turned union leaders into celebrities, sent shockwaves through the broader labor movement and spurred politicians across the country to rally behind Amazon workers. Now, he also appears to have created a fallout in Amazon’s executive ranks.
On Thursday, Amazon notified more than half a dozen senior executives involved with the Staten Island warehouse that they were being terminated, said four current and former employees with knowledge of the situation, who spoke on condition of anonymity. for fear of reprisals.
The layoffs, which occurred outside of the company’s typical employee review cycle, were seen by managers and others who work at the facility as a response to the Amazon Labor Union victory. , said three of the people. Warehouse workers voted overwhelmingly to form the company’s first union in the United States, in one of organized labor’s biggest victories in at least a generation.
News of the upheaval spread through the warehouse on Thursday. Many of the managers had been responsible for implementing the company’s response to the organizing effort. Several were veterans of the company, with more than six years of experience, according to their LinkedIn profiles.
Workers who backed the union complained that the company’s health and safety protocols were too lax, particularly around Covid-19 and repetitive strain injuries, and that the company was pushing them too hard to achieve performance goals, often at the expense of sufficient breaks. . Many also said the wage at the warehouse, which starts at more than $18 an hour for full-time workers, was too low for living in New York.
Understanding Organizing Efforts at Amazon
An Amazon spokeswoman said the company made management changes after spending several weeks evaluating “operations and leadership” aspects at JFK8, which is the company’s name for the warehouse. “Part of our culture at Amazon is to continually improve, and we think it’s important to take the time to review whether or not we’re doing our best for our team,” said Kelly Nantel, CEO. word.
Officials were told they were being let go as part of an “organizational change”, two people said. One of the people said that some of the managers were very successful and had recently received positive reviews.
The Staten Island factory is Amazon’s only fulfillment center in New York, and for a year current and former employees at the factory organized to form an upstart and independent union.
The company is contesting 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 keep up the pressure on Amazon to negotiate a contract.
Christian Smalls, president of the Amazon Labor Union, testified Thursday before a Senate committee examining whether companies that violate labor laws should be denied federal contracts. Mr Smalls then attended a White House meeting with other union organizers where he directly asked President Biden to pressure Amazon to recognize his union.
A White House spokeswoman said it was up to the National Labor Relations Board to certify the results of the recent election, but claimed Mr Biden had long supported collective bargaining and the rights of workers to unionize. .
Amazon said it has invested $300 million in security projects in 2021 alone and is offering above-minimum-wage compensation with solid benefits like health care to full-time workers as soon as they join the company. ‘business.
Company officials and consultants held more than 20 mandatory meetings a day with employees in the run-up to the election, during which they sought to persuade workers not to support the union. Officials highlighted the amount of money the union would collect from them and pointed to the uncertainty of collective bargaining, which they said could worsen the situation for workers.
Labor experts say such claims can be misleading because it is highly unusual for workers to see their pay drop as a result of the union bargaining process.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
Grace Ashford contributed report. Sheelagh McNeill contributed to the research.