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Amazon settles labor charges with 2 former workers it fired after complaints

As part of the deal, Amazon must pay the former workers back wages and notify its tech and warehouse workers that it cannot fire workers in the fashion it did in the complaint. File Photo by Friedemann Vogel/EPA-EFE
1 of 5 | As part of the deal, Amazon must pay the former workers back wages and notify its tech and warehouse workers that it cannot fire workers in the fashion it did in the complaint. File Photo by Friedemann Vogel/EPA-EFE

Sept. 30 (UPI) -- Online retailer Amazon has settled a protracted labor dispute with two former employees who were illegally fired for speaking out against the company's coronavirus response and environmental policies.

The former workers, Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa, were user experience designers at Amazon's Seattle headquarters before they were terminated in April 2020. Amazon said they were dismissed for "repeatedly" violating internal policies.

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Cunningham and Costa contended that they were fired for blowing the whistle on the company's climate policies and failing to provide a safe working environment amid the COVID-19 crisis. The National Labor Relations Board ruled earlier this year that they had been illegally fired.

The settlement on Wednesday follows a NLRB hearing this week, at which the board presented evidence against Amazon in the case.

As part of the deal, Amazon must pay Cunningham and Costa back wages and notify its tech and warehouse workers that it cannot fire workers in the fashion it did with the former workers in the complaint.

"This is a win for protecting workers' rights, and shows that we were right to stand up for each other, for justice and for our world," Cunningham and Costa said in a joint statement.

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"Amazon will be required to pay us our lost wages and post a notice to all of its tech and warehouse workers nationwide that Amazon can't fire workers for organizing and exercising their rights."

"It's also not lost on us that we are two women who were targeted for firing," they added. "Inequality, racism and sexism are at the heart of both the climate crisis and the pandemic."

The board could have forced Amazon to rehire Cunningham and Costa.

"[Amazon] reached a mutual agreement that resolves the legal issues in this case and welcome[s] the resolution of this matter," Amazon spokesman Jose Negrete told The Washington Post.

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