Amazon has settled a dispute with two workers who, according to the National Labor Relations Board, have been sacked for activism. In April 2020, the company fired Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa after organizing a protest against Amazon’s work with oil and gas companies and raising concerns about the company’s coronavirus measures at its warehouses. In a joint statement, Costa and Cunningham said the company would have to pay them for lost wages and inform employees that they could not be fired for organizing. They didn’t mention whether they would get their UX designer jobs back.
At the time of the NLRB’s decision, Amazon said it disagreed with the results and that Costa and Cunningham had been fired for violating internal guidelines. NLRB decisions do not carry the weight of judgments issued by federal judges, but the Working Committee can argue against the legal system that its orders should be enforced. Often times, however, as we have seen today, the two parties will come to an agreement.
Amazon did not immediately respond to the request for comment, but communicated it CNBC that she and the staff “have reached a mutual agreement that resolves the legal issues in this case and welcomes the resolution of this matter”. Costa and Cunningham called the settlement “a win for the protection of workers’ rights”.
Amazon faces many more NLRB complaints, and the NLRB issued a preliminary assessment in August that the company was illegally interfering in the high-profile warehouse union action in Bessemer, Alabama. This case is currently still open.
Amazon was already required to publish notices informing workers of their labor rights due to previous settlements, so this is not a new win for organizers or activists. Some workers have argued that the settlements and NLRB rulings do not have enough ramifications for Amazon to change its retaliatory behavior against its employees.