The National Labor Relations Board has determined that Amazon illegally interrogated a warehouse worker who led his colleagues on strike over the management of the company of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Monday report from Motherboard.
Jonathan Bailey, Amazon worker led 13 workers in a strike from a company warehouse in the New York City borough of Queens on March 20, 2020, after a colleague tested positive for the virus and was sent home. That followed another strike at the same warehouse two days earlier under similar circumstances, in which Bailey was also one of the main organizers.
After the two strikes, Amazon sent an executive who described himself as a former FBI employee to take Bailey to a meeting and accuse him of engaging in conduct that could be construed as harassment from colleagues. The manager told Bailey that he would have to be notified before any further action. Motherboard reports:
The next day, a regional manager who introduced himself as a former FBI agent took Bailey aside to the management offices and questioned Bailey about his role in the strike, told him that his behavior could be harassment, and demanded that he Bailey will contact him prior to future outings, according to Bailey’s NLRB testimony.
“He interrogated me for an hour and a half,” Bailey told Motherboard. “A week later, they called me back to the office and reported me for harassment, saying that people felt hurt by what I did.” Motherboard obtained an audio recording of that meeting.
Federal labor laws prohibit employers from retaliating against workers who attempt to unionize or organize collective action against unfair or dangerous conditions.
Bailey filed a complaint with the NLRB and reached an agreement with Amazon on documents dated March 3, 2021. The agreement resolved part of the problem, but the NLRB still issued a determination that Amazon had violated federal labor laws at least four times. Specific violations included ordering employees not to organize “without first notifying [them], “Threatening to discipline the organizers, and”[interrogating] employees about their participation, ”according to agency documents obtained by Motherboard.
The NLRB dismissed three other complaints against Amazon over the same matter, according to Motherboard. As a result of the agreement, Amazon will be required to post brochures notifying warehouse personnel that they will not be confronted or questioned about protected activities.
Motherboard had previously reported to Amazon sloppy to prepare for pandemic conditions, despite having a large corporate security division designed to monitor everything from pandemic-type threats to worker behavior and labor and environmental movements. At the same time, workers faced pressure to work even harder. Amazon deliveries increased due to blocking orders imposed to limit the spread of the virus. Internal Amazon documents obtained by the site back claims from workers at the Queens facility that the company had violated New York’s paid sick leave law by firing workers who did not show up for their shifts, as well as Amazon’s policy by having some 12 shifts work hours. Amazon also supposedly running out of supplies like hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, sanitizer and water for employees who encounter “heat stress” in sweaty company premises.
“While we do not agree with the allegations made in the case, we are pleased to put this matter behind us,” Amazon spokeswoman Leah Say told Motherboard. “The health and safety of our employees is our top priority and we pride ourselves on offering inclusive environments, where employees can excel without fear of retaliation, intimidation or harassment.”
“Amazon fabricated false and unfair disciplinary measures to build false cases against workers who are leading the fight to be treated as more than a grain of sand for the benefit of Amazon,” said the site Amazonians United New York City, the group that organized strikes. “We thank the NLRB for putting in countless hours and validating what we already knew to be true. Ultimately, it is our solidarity that protects us and will help us win a better world. “
Amazon, run by the world’s richest man, has long faced pushback from workers who say the company often ignores their Health and security in favor of profits, and the NLRB has ruled that the company unlawfully retaliated against workers who led strikes in Chicago and another worker on Staten Island who protested outside an Amazon facility on your day off. The company has not been able to close a union campaign in a warehouse in Alabama where workers will vote on forming a bargaining unit at the end of March, while employees at other facilities across the country considering doing the same. President Joe Biden effectively backed Amazon’s organizing efforts this month, issuing a clear warning to company bosses that workers have the right to form a union without interference from management.