Amazon sued by NLRB to reinstate worker who says he was fired for demanding better COVID safety measures

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amazon warehouse with boxes

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is suing Amazon in federal court over what it sees as an illegal retaliatory action. The agency claims that the tech giant fired Gerald Bryson for protesting unsafe working conditions at a Staten Island, New York warehouse—and filed an injunction to have him re-hired.

The NLRB is also asking a judge to change “flagrant unfair labor practices” at the Staten Island warehouse known as JFK8 and said failure to do so will show the judge that “the Board can not effectively guarantee their rights … to engage in protected concerted activities with coworkers to improve their terms and conditions of employment.” 

Bryson was fired in April 2020 for violating Amazon’s harassment policy, according to the New York Times. The company says he engaged in a shouting match with another warehouse employee, but Bryson denies starting the argument. According to The Times, a recording captured most of the altercation between Bryson and a coworker, but the comments were initiated by Bryson’s coworker, who tried to convince Bryson to fight her, which he did not.

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According to the NLRB, the Section 10(j) injunction is intended to temporarily fix a situation that would take too long in court. Bryson has been fighting to get his job back for almost two years, and the petition argues that employees would be afraid to speak out against Amazon if Bryson isn’t reinstated. 

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The injunction comes during an important time for the JFK8 warehouse, which is set to begin voting on unionization starting next Friday, March 25. Bryson is still one of the leaders of the Amazon Labor Union, which is heading up efforts to unionize warehouses across the country, including the JFK8 warehouse where Bryson worked. 

According to the petition, Bryson was the face of a movement for better COVID-19 safety measures at JFK8 before Amazon fired him. The JFK8 warehouse in particular came under fire for how it handled the pandemic, and one worker who protested the conditions at the warehouse later died from COVID.

Earlier this year, Amazon’s Staten Island facilities faced a separate complaint by the NLRB claiming the company was “threatening, surveilling, and interrogating” employees and that union materials were confiscated by Amazon security. In December, Amazon and the NLRB reached a settlement that required the company to notify its workers of their right to organize via email and physically posted signs.

Along with the reinstatement of Bryson, the injunction filed this week would also require the JFK8 facility to hold an all-hands meeting to discuss employees’ rights to unionize—a move which would be more engaging to employees than the previous written notices.

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The post Amazon sued by NLRB to reinstate worker who says he was fired for demanding better COVID safety measures appeared first on The Daily Dot.



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