Amazon has settled a dispute with two workers that the National Labor Relations Board said were fired for their activism. In April 2020, the company fired Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa after they had organized a protest against Amazon’s work with oil and gas companies, as well as raising concerns with the company’s coronavirus measures at its warehouses. In a joint statement, Costa and Cunningham said that the company would have to pay them lost wages as well as inform employees that they couldn’t be fired for organizing. They haven’t mentioned whether they would be getting their jobs as UX designers back.
At the time of the NLRB’s ruling, Amazon said that it disagreed with the findings, and that Costa and Cunningham had been fired due to violation of internal policies. NLRB rulings don’t carry the weight of ones handed down by federal judges, but the labor relations board can argue to the legal system that its orders should be enforced. Often, though, the two parties will settle as we saw today.
Amazon did not immediately respond to request for comment, but told CNBC that it and the employees had “reached a mutual agreement that resolves the legal issues in this case and welcome the resolution of this matter.” Costa and Cunningham called the settlement “a win for protecting workers rights.”
Amazon faces many more NLRB complaints, and the NLRB issued a preliminary assessment in August that the company illegally interfered with the highly publicized warehouse union drive in Bessemer, Alabama. That case is currently still open.
Amazon has already been required to post notices informing workers about their labor rights because of previous settlements, so that’s not a new win for organizers or activists. Some workers have argued that the settlements and NLRB rulings don’t carry enough consequences for Amazon to change its retaliatory behavior against its employees.