Sep 30, 2021 - Axios Events

Amazon settles with fired tech workers who criticized company

 The Amazon.com, Inc. BHM1 fulfillment center is seen before sunrise on March 29, 2021 in Bessemer, Alabama
Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Amazon settled Wednesday with two former tech workers it fired after they criticized the e-commerce giant's management of warehouse workers and its impact on climate change.

Why it matters: The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) found in April that Amazon had illegally fired Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa.

  • The NLRB told the company it would accuse it of unfair labor practices unless it reached a settlement with the workers, the New York Times reported at the time.

Context: Cunningham and Costa joined dozens of Amazon workers last year in reporting company retaliations to the labor board.

  • While Amazon has long faced accusations of unfair labor practices, scrutiny has increased during the pandemic, Axios' Shawna Chen notes.
  • Amazon's warehouse employees are considered essential workers and cannot work from home, increasing their potential exposure to the coronavirus.

What they're saying: Cunningham and Costa said in a joint statement the settlement was "a win for protecting workers rights, and shows that we were right to stand up for each other, for justice, and for our world."

  • "It's also not lost on us that we are two women who were targeted for firing," they added. "Inequality, racism, and sexism are at the heart of both the climate crisis and the pandemic."
  • An NLRB spokesperson confirmed that a non-board settlement had been reached in the case.

The other side: An Amazon spokesperson did not address the inequality claims when contacted by Axios, but said in an emailed statement: "We have reached a mutual agreement that resolves the legal issues in this case and welcome the resolution of this matter."

Go deeper