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Amazon fires workers who criticized its safety and climate policies

Amazon employees makes damning accusations
Amazon employees make damning accusations against company's virus precautions 03:27

Amazon has fired two employees who criticized the company's warehouse operations and climate policies. Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa, both user experience designers, said on Twitter late Monday that the company had dismissed them.

The two were part of a group of white-collar workers, called Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, that had pushed the company to implement more environmentally friendly policies

Cunningham and Costa also had openly criticized Amazon's treatment of warehouse workers in recent weeks, including tweeting a petition calling for expanded sick leave, higher pay and a shutdown of facilities where Amazon workers had tested positive for the coronavirus. They and other workers also raised funds for warehouse workers who needed to self-quarantine.

"It's a gift to be able to fight for something you love so deeply," Cunningham said in a tweet on Tuesday.

In a statement, an Amazon spokesperson said the women were fired "for repeatedly violating internal policies."

"We support every employee's right to criticize their employer's working conditions, but that does not come with blanket immunity against any and all internal policies," the statement said. 

Amazon changed its policy late last year to curtail employee criticism shortly after a worker organized a walkout during the global climate strike.

Amazon also recently fired Bashir Mohamed, a warehouse employee in Minnesota, according to Athena, a coalition of anti-Amazon community and labor groups. Mohamed told BuzzFeed he believes he was targeted for advocating for better working conditions. Amazon sent a statement saying Mohamed was fired "for violating internal policies, including harassing a co-worker, social distancing, and other safety guidelines."

Amazon executive Jay Carney talks retail giant's coronavirus precautions 04:24

Two weeks ago, Amazon fired Chris Smalls, another worker who had been critical of the company's warehouse operations. Smalls in late March organized a protest at the company's Staten Island warehouse in New York after witnessing workers coming in sick. The company said it fired him for violating its social-distancing policy. Vice later obtained an Amazon memo detailing plans to smear Smalls and "make him the face of the entire union/organizing movement."

Amazon workers have walked off the job at warehouses in New York, Detroit and Chicago, drawing attention to a lack of personal protective equipment, a sick-leave policy they call too restrictive and the company's reluctance to close down facilities where workers have fallen ill. At least 70 Amazon workers have tested positive for the virus nationwide, according to media reports.

The company is currently in the midst of a hiring spree and announced this week it was bringing on 75,000 additional workers, on top of 100,000 hired in the past month.

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