Amazon gets into trouble over the allegation that it has illegally fired a union organizer in New York. The National Labor Relations Board has found the allegations to be true and it seems like the e-commerce giant has some explaining to do. The fired union organizer, Daequan Smith was a former worker at Amazon and he was fired for trying to unionize warehouses in Staten Island. Smith was one of the organizers of the Amazon Labor Union. He was fired in the month of October last year. Following the firing, an unfair labor practices complaint was filed by the group with the National Labor Relations Board. Illegal retaliatory filing is the last thing a company needs when it already has a reputation for being anti-union. The NLRB has found the allegations to be true and a formal complaint will be issued against Amazon in case of non-settlement.
The What and Why
Amazon has a reputation for being against unions. In fact, it has been explicit in its opposition by stating that it doesn’t “think unions are the best answer for its employees.” Apparently, the e-commerce giant is of the rather adamant opinion that the presence of unions stops them from making changes that will improve and empower the employees.
“Every day we empower people to find ways to improve their jobs, and when they do that we want to make those changes – quickly. That type of continuous improvement is harder to do quickly and nimbly with unions in the middle.”
The Amazon Labor Union is an independent group, free of any connections with the major national unions. It consists of the former and existing employees of the company. Last year, the group wasn’t successful in unionizing Amazon’s fulfillment centers in Staten Island. However, the application has been refiled with the NLRB and a hearing is scheduled for February.
Smith is not the first ALU organizer to be fired by the company. In 2020, Chris Smalls, the ALU president was dismissed from his job for holding a walkout at Amazon’s JFK8 facility in response to the company’s insufficient COVID safety measures at the warehouses. Despite its opposition to unions, Amazon had reached an agreement with the NLRB. As per the deal, the company was bound to inform the workers of their legal right to join unions. As per the reports from Bloomberg, the complaint will be brought to the agency judges by NLRB if its finds that the claims made by the workers are true.