Amazon accused of calling police, firing workers to bust union drive: report

Amazon employees looking to organize a labor union are accusing the e-commerce giant of trying to disrupt their efforts with tactics that have included firing workers and calling the police over trumped-up trespassing allegations.

Matt Litrell, 22, told The Washington Post that he was nearly arrested earlier this month outside the Amazon facility where he works in Campbellsville, Kentucky.

He claimed that Amazon told police that trespassers were on company property during a pro-union demonstration, but when police arrived they determined that Litrell wasn’t violating any laws.

“We were completely within our rights to be there,” Litrell told The Washington Post, the newspaper owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

Litrell said that a company manager sarcastically asked him: “How’s the revolution going?”

The New York Post has sought comment from Amazon.

Litrell filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board accusing Amazon of illegally intimidating unionizing workers. Amazon has denied the allegations.

“Like every company, we have basic expectations of employees at all levels of the organization when it comes to attendance and performance, safety, and personal conduct,” an Amazon spokesperson told the Washington Post.

Pro-union workers at Amazon were energized by the recent victory by organized labor in Staten Island.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

“Whether an employee supports a certain cause or group doesn’t factor into the difficult decision of whether or not to let someone go. The allegations mentioned in this story are without merit, and we look forward to showing that through the appropriate process.”

The NLRB regional office in Phoenix is the site of a hearing on Monday in which Amazon is seeking to invalidate the results of an election among workers at a Staten Island warehouse earlier this year.

Some 55% of workers who voted at Amazon’s JFK8 warehouse in Staten Island opted to join the Amazon Labor Union, which has demanded higher pay and job security. Since the result, US workers from another 50 buildings have contacted the union, the group’s leader has said.

Amazon claims the vote should be thrown out because unionizing members used intimidation tactics against their colleagues.

There are unionization efforts at Amazon facilities in Bessemer, Ala. Workers at a second Staten Island warehouse voted against unionization last month.

Amazon is asking the National Labor Relations Board to invalidate the recent vote at the JFK8 facility on Staten Island.
Amazon is asking the National Labor Relations Board to invalidate the recent vote at the JFK8 facility on Staten Island.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Since the Amazon Labor Union’s victory in Staten Island, more than half a dozen Amazon employees claim they were fired for labor-related organizing.

Pat Cioffi, a labor organizer who worked at JFK8, said he was fired for pro-union activity. Amazon denies this. The company claims he was terminated for verbally and physically assaulting a female manager.

Four Amazon workers in Queens said they were fired for “protesting terms and conditions of employment.”

Joey Desatnik, an Amazon worker from Cleveland, alleged last month that he was terminated by Amazon in order to “discourage union activities and support among his fellow employees.”

Rakyle Johnson was fired from his Amazon job in Chicago because he “joined or supported a labor organization.”

But Amazon disputes those allegations. The company claims Desatnik was let go for resisting a security screening while Johnson “was terminated for a serious safety violation that involved jamming an object in a conveyor belt to stop production.”

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