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An Amazon warehouse. Photo: Oli Scarff via Getty Images

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) found that Amazon illegally fired two of its most prominent critics last year after they spoke out against the company's management of warehouse workers and impact on climate change, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The news comes as the board is set to reveal the results of a high-profile unionization vote at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama this week.

How it happened: The employees, Emily Cunningham and Maren 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. Amazon's warehouse employees are considered essential workers and cannot work from home, increasing their potential exposure to the coronavirus.
  • The NLRB has pushed the company to reach a settlement with the workers. If they don't, the NLRB told Cunningham and Costa it would formally accuse Amazon of unfair labor practices, per the Times.

What they're saying: "It’s a moral victory and really shows that we are on the right side of history and the right side of the law," Cunningham told the Times.

The other side: A company spokesperson said Amazon supports employees' rights to criticize their employer, but that Cunningham and Costa were fired because they did not follow internal policies, according to the Times.

The big picture: The union has said workers face intense pressure and surveillance in order to ensure they meet quotas.

  • The results of the unionization fight in Alabama "could alter the shape of the labor movement and one of America’s largest private employers," the Times writes.

Go deeper

Apr 5, 2021 - Podcasts

Amazon’s historic labor vote

Results for the closely watched union vote at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, are expected this week.

It’s been a long and contentious union drive that has received intense pushback from Amazon. It's an organizing effort that could impact the future of the modern day labor movement.

  • Plus, why the coming weeks are crucial for climate change.
  • And, tracking new variants of the coronavirus.

White House nominates Rick Spinrad as NOAA leader

In this NOAA GOES-East satellite handout image, Hurricane Dorian, a Cat. 4 storm, moves slowly past Grand Bahama Island on September 2, 2019. (Photo by NOAA via Getty Images)

The White House on Thursday evening nominated Rick Spinrad, an oceanographer at Oregon State University, to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Why it matters: Filling the NOAA slot would complete the Biden administration's leadership on the climate and environment team. The agency, located within the Commerce Department, houses the National Weather Service and conducts much of the nation's climate science research.

2 hours ago - World

Israeli officials will object to restoration of Iran deal in D.C. visit

Photo: Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has instructed the delegation traveling to Washington, D.C. next week for strategic talks on Iran to stress their objection to a U.S. return to the 2015 nuclear deal and to refuse to discuss its contents, Israeli officials say.

Why it matters: That position is similar to the one Israel took in the year before the 2015 nuclear deal was announced, which led to a rift between the Israeli government and the Obama administration. History could now repeat itself.