Amazon settles with pair of Seattle employees fired over criticism of company’s climate policies

Sep 30, 2021, 12:49 PM
Seattle fired Amazon workers...
Amazon and other tech employees march past the Amazon Spheres during the Global Climate Strike on September 20, 2019. (Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

Amazon has reportedly settled with a pair of Seattle employees fired in 2020, over what a federal labor board said was in retaliation for speaking out against the company’s climate change policies.

Employees fired for speaking out against Amazon’s role in climate crisis

The two employees — Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa — first began publicly speaking out against their now-former employer in 2018, going on to lead Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, an internal worker-led climate group that called on Amazon to take action to mitigate its effect and impact on the climate crisis. Cunningham and Costa had both been leaders within that internal movement, in addition to actively sharing a petition from warehouse workers who were worried about the risk to their health at the start of the pandemic.

Amazon terminated their employment shortly after the two employees shared the petition, defending the move at the time by claiming that they had been “repeatedly violating internal policies.” Cunningham and Costa contested that claim, instead alleging that they were made examples of due to their visible status as leaders of the internal climate group.

Then, in April 2021, the National Labor Relations Board officially determined that Amazon had illegally fired the two employees, accusing the company of conducting “unfair labor practices.”

PBS Frontline reveals Amazon’s impact on society

Amazon settled with the NLRB this week, agreeing to pay Cunningham and Costa for lost wages, and to ensure that the company’s current employees are notified of their right to take collective action.

Both of the former Amazon employees garnered public support over the last year from prominent national leaders and lawmakers, including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, and then-Senator Kamala Harris, among others.

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Amazon settles with pair of Seattle employees fired over criticism of company’s climate policies