- The National Labor Relations Board charged Amazon with illegal labor practices, Vice reported.
- Amazon management “intimidated and threatened” a worker who led a walkout in Queens, according to the report.
- The report comes in the wake of a historic union push in Amazon’s Bessemer, Alabama warehouse.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
The National Labor Relations Board accused Amazon of illegally interrogated and threatened a worker in New York City who was leading a walkout in March 2020 in response to the company’s COVID-19 practices, Vice reported Monday citing internal agency documents.
Jonathan Bailey, a worker at Amazon’s Queens facility, helped organize a walkout to protest working conditions and what workers claimed was a lack of sanitation supplies in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, according to documents reviewed by Vice.
According to the federal complaint filed by the NLRB, as reported by Vice, Amazon interviewed Bailey for an hour and a half. The contents of the interview constituted intimidation. He also received a write-up for harassment, Vice said.
The case did not go to trial after the parties reached a settlement, an Amazon spokesperson confirmed to Insider.
“While we disagree with allegations made in the case, we are pleased to put this matter behind us,” the spokesperson said. “The health and safety of our employees is our top priority and we are proud to provide inclusive environments, where employees can excel without fear of retaliation, intimidation or harassment.”
The NLRB did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Bailey and other Amazon workers have been taking incremental steps towards collective action since the end of 2019, Vice reported, and the pandemic made many of their demands more urgent. A group organized under the name Amazonians United NYC led walkouts last year, and circulated a petition with over 5,000 signatures asking for better coronavirus protections, Vice found.
Amazon was found guilty of four of the seven allegations in the NLRB’s review, including telling employees not to engage in collective action “without notifying” workers.
The company is also facing scrutiny at the state level in New York. In February of this year, the New York attorney general Letitia James filed a suit against Amazon for its alleged failure to provide safe working conditions during the pandemic.
This incident is not the first time Amazon has clashed with organized labor.
Chris Smalls, an Amazon worker in Staten Island, was fired by the company after organizing a walkout last year. And in the company’s Bessemer, Alabama fulfillment center, where a union drive is ongoing, the company has devoted significant resources to anti-union merchandise and online marketing.
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