Amazon labor union says 50 workers suspended for refusing to work

Employees say Amazon put health at risk after SI warehouse fire


An unrecognized labor union still working for an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island, New York, said early Wednesday that 50 workers at the facility were suspended by the online retail giant for a walkout due to unsafe working conditions following a fire. was given. About 100 workers took out a march through the warehouse facility on Monday night, demanding to be sent home with pay after a garbage compactor caught fire.

JFK8 warehouse employee Leo Shockey, “It’s just an unsafe work environment,” Told CBS New York after the fire. He and other employees said the fire also filled the warehouse with smoke so that work could be done safely.

In a statement posted to its Twitter page, the Amazon Labor Union of JFK8 – a grassroots group of former and current workers Amazon’s management still battling for formal recognition As a union – said management had “suspended more than 50 workers who were involved in last night’s walkout.”

The union called it “clear retaliation” for the action.

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“Amazon workers made a collective decision last night to send workers home while the smoke clears,” the Amazon labor union said. fire.

The fire broke out when a compactor caught fire from a loading dock shortly before a shift changeover on Monday afternoon. Employee Tristian Martinez, whose shift was ending, shot the video and told CBS New York that he and other members of the day’s shift were told they could go home at around 5:15 p.m.

When night shift workers started arriving late, they said Amazon managers didn’t tell them about the fire, which caused no casualties.

“There was no message from Amazon, so we all came to work in an unsafe environment,” said employee Brett Daniels.

Employees claim that smoke still remains inside the facility.

An image from video provided to CBS New York by an employee of Amazon’s “JFK8” warehouse in Staten Island, New York, shows a fire burning in a garbage compactor just outside the facility on October 3, 2022.


“It made me congested. My head was hurting. It was definitely a lot,” Shockey told CBS New York.

“They didn’t show us evidence that it was safe to work there. They just told us to work through it,” Eli Andino said.

In a statement, an Amazon spokesperson told CBS New York that the fire department had “certified that the building is safe and at that time we asked all night shift workers to report to their regularly scheduled shifts.”

Fire officials told CBS New York that, although the FDNY had responded to the fire outside the building, it was unclear whether the attending team had inspected conditions inside the facility.

“I don’t think it’s fair that I got paid to leave when it wasn’t unsafe for them to leave me,” Martinez, an early shift employee, told CBS New York. “It’s just because they’re losing more money by missing a 10-hour shift than I am going home two hours earlier.”

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The test comes just months after the first Amazon employee collective to work at a Staten Island warehouse vote for union, Amazon appealed the results of that vote, claiming that the election was tainted by the local National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) office.

Just a few weeks ago, in a major victory for the employee unionization bid, Amazon’s management lost the legal challenge The results of that vote with the NRLB evened out, but the Amazon labor union still faces a potentially lengthy battle for recognition by America’s second-largest employer.

“We were receiving the first reports of both smoke and water flowing in response to the fire,” the Amazon labor union group said in its statement Wednesday morning. “When workers demanded the right to speak together as a union, Amazon heightened their fear by telling us that key worker leaders have now been suspended for doing exactly the same things for Workers had voted, coming together to create a plan that we, as frontline workers, felt safe in. At work. We will not tolerate any unsafe workplaces and we will not tolerate intimidation.”

The Washington Post, owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, said the online retailer had confirmed the employee suspension at the JFK8 facility. The newspaper quoted Amazon spokesman Paul Flanigan as saying that the company respected its employees’ right to protest, but it was not appropriate for employees to occupy workplaces, referring to the workers’ march through the warehouse.

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