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Senators ask Jeff Bezos for more information on Amazon firings

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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on October 02, 2019.

Elif Ozturk | Anadolu Company | Getty Pictures

9 Democratic senators are calling on Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to supply extra data on the latest firing of 4 staff who had been outspoken critics of its labor practices and questioned whether or not their dismissal constituted retaliation. 

In a letter Thursday, Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Kamala Harris of California, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin requested for extra readability on Amazon’s insurance policies “relating to grounds for worker self-discipline and termination.” The letter was first reported by The New York Instances. 

“So as to perceive how the termination of staff that raised issues about well being and security situations didn’t represent retaliation for whistleblowing, we’re requesting details about Amazon’s insurance policies relating to grounds for worker self-discipline and termination,” the letter states. 

Amazon has fired a minimum of 4 staff who referred to as for larger security protections for warehouse employees in the course of the pandemic.

The corporate continues to face widespread criticism over its resolution final month to fireside Chris Smalls, a warehouse employee who organized a strike at its Staten Island, New York facility. Smalls stated he was fired for organizing the strike, however Amazon stated it dismissed Smalls as a result of he violated social distancing guidelines whereas he was presupposed to be underneath quarantine after being uncovered to a co-worker who examined optimistic for the coronavirus. Smalls’ firing prompted investigations by New York Metropolis Mayor Invoice de Blasio and New York state Lawyer Normal Letitia James, who referred to as the transfer “disgraceful.”

Amazon additionally fired Bashir Mohamed, a warehouse employee in Minnesota who had spoken out about his facility’s therapy of staff who proceed to return to work amid the coronavirus outbreak. Amazon beforehand stated it fired Mohamed on account of “progressive disciplinary motion for inappropriate language, habits and violating social distancing tips.” 

Along with Smalls and Mohamed, the corporate fired Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa, two former person expertise designers who criticized Amazon’s local weather stance and, most not too long ago, its therapy of warehouse employees. Previous to their dismissal, Costa and Cunningham had circulated invitations for an inside occasion the place warehouse employees and tech employees may focus on office situations. Amazon stated it fired Costa and Cunningham for “repeatedly violating inside insurance policies,” together with its solicitation coverage, by using firm sources to solicit cash and signatures from their colleagues. 

An Amazon spokesperson instructed CNBC in an announcement that it helps employees’ rights to protest and criticize their employers’ working situations, “however that doesn’t include blanket immunity towards any and all inside insurance policies.”

“These people weren’t terminated for speaking publicly about working situations or security, however somewhat, for violating—typically repeatedly—insurance policies, corresponding to intimidation, bodily distancing and extra,” the spokesperson added. “We look ahead to explaining in additional element in our response to the Senators’ letter.” 

Cunningham stated Amazon ought to permit employees to “converse freely” concerning the issues of safety they encounter at their workplaces. 

“Warehouse employees are underneath unimaginable menace proper now,” Cunningham stated. “When employees haven’t got the power to talk out, it is a catastrophe, not just for employees however for the bigger public as effectively.” 

The senators stated Amazon’s “obscure public statements relating to violations of ‘inside insurance policies'” did not adequately clarify the employees’ firing. The senators requested Bezos to reply what exterior communications represent a disciplinary motion for Amazon staff, whether or not Amazon’s self-discipline and termination insurance policies are the identical for warehouse employees, tech employees and executives and whether or not Amazon paperwork which employees take part in walkouts, strikes or different organizing actions, amongst different issues. The senators gave Bezos till Might 20 to answer their questions. 

Amazon warehouse employees throughout the nation have referred to as for the corporate to place in place larger security protections, together with closing down services the place there are optimistic instances for added cleansing. Warehouse employees have staged protests at services in Detroit, Illinois and Staten Island, they usually participated in nationwide strikes held final week. The corporate has beforehand stated it has gone to “nice lengths” to maintain services clear and ensure staff are following mandatory precautions. 

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