'Come 75,000 workers, join us!' says Amazon. Just don't dare complain about the boss or you're out on your ear
“Repeatedly violated internal policies” means go to the door
Updated Amazon has fired another three employees who have been critical of the biz, including two tech workers in Seattle and a warehouse worker in Minnesota. All three have raised concerns about the working conditions at the online giant’s warehouses during the coronavirus outbreak.
Two Seattle-based staff, Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa, are user experience designers and have chided the company both privately and publicly for the conditions of its warehouses which they have said are unsafe during the pandemic. They've also challenged Amazon's somewhat oblique approach to climate change moves.
At least 70 Amazon workers have fallen sick and several warehouses have seen demonstrations from workers upset about their potential exposure to the deadly virus. The two designers were fired on Friday via conference call after offering to match donations to support warehouse workers.
Meanwhile, Amazon Minnesota warehouse employee Bashir Mohamed, who was pushing for better working conditions and threatened to unionize workers to improve cleaning and introduce other methods for protecting against the coronavirus, has also reportedly been sacked.
The firings come a week after another worker, Chris Small, was fired after taking place in a walkout at the company’s Staten Island warehouse, again over working conditions that he said were unsafe.
All four fired workers have said that they believe Amazon was attempting to silence dissent at a time when the company’s business is booming thanks to millions of Americans working from home to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Amazon has a different explanation. Small was fired because he entered the warehouse despite having been placed in quarantine for potential exposure, the company said.
Cunningham and Costa were fired for “repeatedly violating internal policies” which is believed to be a reference to Amazon employees being barred from “publicly disparaging” the company rather than only raising concerns internally. And Mohamed was fired, Amazon has said, because he refused to speak to his supervisor (Mohamed claims his supervisor was treating him unfairly.)
The firings have again put a spotlight on how Amazon treats its workers after a series of revelations in recent years in which the company has been accused of running sweatshops, working its employees to exhaustion and "shockingly callous management practices.” ®
Updated to add
Amazon has confirmed that an ops manager at its Hawthorne, California facility, has died after contracting COVID-19.