Amazon Settles Labor Dispute With Fired Climate Activists
(Bloomberg) -- Amazon.com Inc. has settled with two web designers who the U.S. labor board alleged were fired for workplace activism.
The private settlement between Amazon and terminated employees Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa was revealed Wednesday in a National Labor Relations Board hearing. Terms weren’t immediately available. Amazon denied wrongdoing in the case. A spokesman said the company welcomed “the resolution of this matter” and declined further comment.
Costa and Cunningham released a joint statement saying the settlement requires Amazon to pay them back wages and notify all employees that it “can’t fire workers for organizing and exercising their rights.”
“Workers at every company need to be standing up for each other and the world, together,” they said.
Amazon and the fired workers reached what is called a “private non-board agreement,” which means it still must be approved by a regional director of the labor board but won’t be released to the public.
Labor board prosecutors in April said they’d filed a complaint accusing Amazon of unfair labor practices because the 2020 terminations violated legal protections for employees who advocate for changes to their workplace. Cunningham and Costa were among the leaders of an employee group that pushed Amazon to do more to combat climate change. As Covid-19 spread last year, the pair broadened their activism to highlight the demands of Amazon warehouse workers who had expressed concerns that the company was not doing enough to ensure their safety. The pair say they were fired shortly after inviting coworkers to attend a virtual event connecting warehouse and tech employees.
The charges are among dozens of complaints filed against Amazon with the labor regulator since the pandemic began. The NLRB encourages companies to settle disputes with workers, and when that doesn’t happen, brings charges before administrative law judges. Their rulings can then be appealed to the NLRB’s presidentially appointed members in Washington and from there to federal court.
Tech industry workers in recent years have become more vocal about their employers’ positions on such issues as immigration and climate change. In September, Google-parent Alphabet Inc. settled a dispute with a software engineer the labor board alleged was fired for workplace activism.
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