comscore Amazon suspends at least 50 workers after fire protest
Top News

Amazon suspends at least 50 workers after fire protest

Honolulu Star-Advertiser logo
Unlimited access to premium stories for as low as $12.95 /mo.
Get It Now
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
                                Union organizer Derrick Palmer speaks at a rally outside an Amazon warehouse, in Staten Island borough of New York, April 24. Amazon has suspended at least 50 warehouse workers who refused to work their shifts following a trash compactor fire at the facility, Tuesday, according to Palmer, the vice president of the Amazon Labor Union.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Union organizer Derrick Palmer speaks at a rally outside an Amazon warehouse, in Staten Island borough of New York, April 24. Amazon has suspended at least 50 warehouse workers who refused to work their shifts following a trash compactor fire at the facility, Tuesday, according to Palmer, the vice president of the Amazon Labor Union.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
                                Amazon workers line up outside the company’s facility, in Staten Island borough of New York, March 25. Amazon has suspended at least 50 workers who refused to work their shifts following a trash compactor fire at the warehouse, Tuesday, according to union organizers.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Amazon workers line up outside the company’s facility, in Staten Island borough of New York, March 25. Amazon has suspended at least 50 workers who refused to work their shifts following a trash compactor fire at the warehouse, Tuesday, according to union organizers.

NEW YORK >> Amazon has suspended at least 50 warehouse employees who refused to work their shifts following a trash compactor fire at one of its New York facilities, according to union organizers.

The company suspended the workers, with pay, on Tuesday, a day after the fire disrupted operations at the Staten Island warehouse that voted to unionize earlier this year.

Derrick Palmer, the vice president of the Amazon Labor Union, said day-shift workers were sent home with pay due to the fire, which began late afternoon Monday. But night-shift employees, who were just coming in for their shift were told to remain in a break area until management figured out the situation, he said.

Dozens of workers began to raise concerns about safety. Some were worried the air in the facility would be unsafe to breathe because of smoke from the fire. Eventually, roughly 100 workers held a sit-down protest at the facility’s main office, demanding to be sent home with pay.

“They were saying ‘we don’t feel safe, we don’t feel safe to work,’” Palmer said.

Amazon spokesperson Paul Flaningan said in a prepared statement that the company had asked all night shift employees to report to their shifts on Monday after the New York Fire Department certified the building as safe.

“While the vast majority of employees reported to their workstations, a small group refused to return to work and remained in the building without permission,” Flaningan said. Some workers had also walked out, while others continued with the protest, according to organizers.

The suspended workers were notified by email and phone that their security badges would be inactive during the duration of the probe, Palmer said. The suspensions are in effect indefinitely as the company investigates. The number of suspended workers could rise. Seth Goldstein, an attorney for the union, said the workers intend to file unfair labor practice charges against Amazon with the National Labor Relations Board.

Amazon has filed over two dozen objections with the agency seeking to toss out the union’s April win. Meanwhile, warehouse workers at a separate facility near Albany, New York will be voting in their own union election next week.

Comments (1)

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Terms of Service. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. Report comments if you believe they do not follow our guidelines.

Having trouble with comments? Learn more here.

Click here to see our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Submit your coronavirus news tip.

Be the first to know
Get web push notifications from Star-Advertiser when the next breaking story happens — it's FREE! You just need a supported web browser.
Subscribe for this feature

Scroll Up