Latest from the blogJun 02, 2023
JENNIFER BATES BAMAZON UNION SPOKESPERSON FIRED WITHOUT CAUSEFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 2, 2023 Contact: Chelsea Connor | [email protected] | 347-866-6259 JENNIFER BATES BAMAZON UNION SPOKESPERSON FIRED WITHOUT CAUSE Woman Who Lit The Spark of the Current Rise of Labor Activism Terminated by Amazon Amid Pending NLRB Review of Election Conduct by Company (NEW YORK, NY) – Today, Jennifer Bates, the lead worker spokeswoman of the Bessemer, Alabama Amazon union drive, received notice she had been terminated by the company amid a several months long workers compensation nightmare. Bates continues to suffer from crippling injuries received while working at Amazon, which she spoke out about during the unionization effort, and for which has lengthy documentation for. The news also comes shortly after Bates hit three years of service this May, an ominous number for Amazon workers whose pay scales top out after three years. Bates led the charge speaking out against workplace safety issues, failures by the company to treat workers with respect and workers desire to unionize at the first Amazon warehouse to file for a union election. She has also long struggled with debilitating injuries from working at Amazon and had taken workers compensation leave recently to tend to these injuries at Amazon’s recommendation. Upon Amazon telling her to return to work the company refused to make adjustments to her work schedule and work type despite repeated doctors’ letters and review by Amazon’s own “Wellness Center”. Nonetheless, Bates returned to work the extreme shifts amid the extreme pain and swelling only to be shortly told to go home by Amazon and get a new doctor’s review before returning. Just days after returning for a second time, she received notice her access to the AtoZ app had been disabled. At issue, according to a difficult to reach HR representative, was her unpaid time off tally, for which she has ample documentation. Only after Bates tenacious inquiries, hours on the phone was Bates even informed she had potentially even been terminated. Despite numerous attempts to provide the necessary paperwork she has yet to hear from the company about her appeal. Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) issued the following statement on Jennifer Bates’ termination: “What is clear today is that Amazon terminated one of the most public pro-union worker leaders we’ve seen in a generation over an alleged paperwork issue, for which there is ample documentation. This is an issue, which can and should be easily resolved by a human; instead, Jennifer Bates is being subjected to termination by AI due to a glitch in the company’s own software. “Outrageously, Jennifer’s is just one example of horror stories burdening thousands of Amazon workers every day. Workers suffer from life-altering injuries through their work at Amazon, including repetitive motion injuries and 911 emergencies, which send workers to the hospital regularly, some never to return again. Continually nameless faceless HR is either nowhere to be found or excessively difficult to track down. “Amazon spared no expense in its union busting throughout the Bessemer campaign; and today is just another in a litany of examples of how this company will stop at nothing to stifle workers' efforts to unionize. Amazon blatantly broke the law throughout the campaign, knowing that any potential penalty would be insignificant. Amazon’s goal was to prevent - by any means - its employees from having a collective voice through a union in Bessemer. Labor law reform is critical if workers are to find any hope. Amazon’s behavior must not be tolerated. “Workers at Amazon have endured an insanely and needlessly long and aggressive fight to unionize their workplace; with Amazon doing everything it can to spread misinformation and deceive workers. Today’s news is shockingly just another case of Amazon’s misconduct in a growing mountain of ULPs, objections and charges against Amazon. The company violated the law in the first election, and did so again in the re-run election, and now is firing union leaders in the facility to all but extinguish any embers of union support in the facility. “We will continue to hold Amazon accountable and ensure workers' voices are heard. Amazon’s behavior must not go unchallenged, and workers in Bessemer, Alabama must have their rights protected under the law. We urge the NLRB to carefully review Jennifer’s case, when it’s filed, and the countless other issues at hand to ensure no company, not even with the bottomless pockets of Amazon, is allowed to act above the law.” During the BAmazon campaign, which was the first effort to organize an entire Amazon warehouse in the company’s decades-long history, Bates had come to be a globally recognized figure of the Bessemer, Alabama campaign, which is often cited as the spark that ignited many labor organizing drives around the country, including inspiring workers at Starbucks, REI, other Amazon facilities and elsewhere. What was seen as a shot in the dark by many in the small town of Bessemer, Alabama turned on the light for thousands across the country seeking dignity and respect at work through a union, and workers across the country are winning today as a result. “I went to work for Amazon because I believed in the future world of work, but at Amazon there is no future for workers like me. I have tirelessly worked for Amazon in Bessemer, Alabama since it opened. Everything hurts and it’s permanently changed my life forever, but I stayed because I believe Amazon can be better, and I believe with a union we can build a brighter future for workers across the company. I’ve given my back to Amazon these past three years. I’ve given my arms and shoulders to Amazon these past three years. And I've given every fiber of my soul into organizing Amazon these past three years. For them to treat me like this is unfathomable. But let me be clear, Amazon, your termination of my employment will not stifle workers organizing, for when you fire leaders, it only brings more people ignited into the movement. We are a movement, we will not be stopped, and I know my union, recognized or not by you, has my back. We will fight this, I will not be silenced, we will not be stopped,” said Jennifer Bates, newly terminated Amazon Bessemer, Alabama worker. # # # The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) represents 100,000 members throughout the United States. The RWDSU is affiliated with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW). For more information, please visit our website at www.rwdsu.org, Facebook:/RWDSU.UFCW Twitter:@RWDSU.Continue readingJun 01, 2023
REI’S NEW COUNSEL ADVISES UNION OF PAY CUTS FOR MANY SOHO WORKERS IN THE MIDDLE OF CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONSFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 1, 2023 Contact: Chelsea Connor | [email protected] | 347-866-6259 REI’S NEW LEGAL COUNSEL MORGAN LEWIS ADVISES UNION OF PAY CUTS FOR MANY SOHO WORKERS IN THE MIDDLE OF CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS REI Switches Representation to Notorious Union Busting Firm Setting Negotiations Back Months (NEW YORK, NY) – Today, REI notified the union through its new legal counsel that many workers at the SoHo, New York store would be receiving pay cuts in their next paycheck amid a shakeup of the company’s legal representation at the bargaining table. The change would revert many workers' pay to pre “The Way Forward” levels, which were won by workers late last year. Last summer, as a result of workers organizing the flagship store, REI introduced “The Way Forward,” a new package of pay and benefits that was extended to workers at every REI store across the country except for the SoHo, New York store. Workers at the store were able to win back the pay raise and improved benefits after they engaged in a walk-out in November. They did so in exchange for an agreement not to strike through June 1, 2023. Despite management’s promise to the unionized workers that the agreement would herald a more productive and harmonious negotiation process, REI went back to their long-held anti-union strategy of glacial bargaining and delay tactics no sooner than the ink on the agreement had dried. Management has continued to stonewall workers on even relatively simple requests, such as including workers’ pronouns on their name tags. Just a few weeks ago, nearly a year into contract negotiations, REI announced it was changing its legal representation to Morgan Lewis, a notoriously, vehemently anti-union law firm. This led REI to cancel all bargaining sessions in the later half of May. When negotiations resume later this month, the move will also force the worker-led bargaining committee to waste time recapitulating proposals that have been on the table for months, derailing and delaying bargaining. Today, REI’s new legal counsel went ahead and notified the union of cuts to the pay of many SoHo workers despite the workers not even engaging in the newly restored right to strike. In light of all this, now that the agreement has ended, workers are taking the urgency of the moment to call out REI to the public for all their bottomless anti-union tactics. Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) issued the following statement in response to REI’s actions: “History was made when REI workers at the SoHo flagship store unionized, but the truth is from the moment workers went public with their organizing efforts the company has ostracized them, and done everything in its power to not just delay their union forming, but getting to a first union contract. “Workers have been bargaining with REI for almost a year, accomplishing a great deal. But, just as workers were getting down to pay and other economics, the company pulled the rug out from under them. “It is inexcusable. But, workers at REI have faced aggressive union busting from the very start. That animus led them to be left out of a critical wage and benefits increase this fall. Workers fought back and won, and now REI is bringing in some of the most anti-union attorneys in the country to pull back on the wages many workers have had for the better part of seven months. It's loose change to REI, but a great deal to workers who supported the company through a global pandemic, risking their own safety to do so in REI’s stores, which were deemed essential due to their bike shops. It’s how workers have survived amid astronomical inflation increases and it is unacceptable for REI’s new representation to reduce workers' pay and conveniently so only at their first unionized store. “The workers of REI SoHo are ready to negotiate a strong contract that will allow them to uphold the co-op’s professed, but not often practiced, progressive values, while providing the top-notch service REI customers have come to expect. The company just has to treat them with dignity and respect, and that means leaving their pay and benefits alone amid these final days of negotiations. It also means bargaining fairly, not rehashing the arguments already made at the table, just because they’ve hired new representation. REI, now is not the time to set back your unionized workers, now is the time to finish bargaining and get to a contract with fair wages, stop delaying, stop hurting your workers, and stop the union busting.” # # # The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) represents 100,000 members throughout the United States. The RWDSU is affiliated with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW). For more information, please visit our website at www.rwdsu.org, Facebook:/RWDSU.UFCW Twitter:@RWDSU.Continue reading
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