Amazon has reportedly fired several senior executives who were part of “operations and leadership” at JFK8, the Staten Island, New York facility that recently voted to unionize. According to the The New York TimesAmazon told executives it was going through an “organizational change,” but some of their colleagues see it as punishment for the union’s victory.
The Time writes that “more than half a dozen” managers were fired, many of them tasked with responding to union efforts. What that means is frustratingly vague — it could mean that the managers had the job of preventing the union from winning, and that they were fired for not doing so. But it could also mean that the managers helped the union in some way and are fired for it (although that would likely be a case of illegal retaliation).
Amazon’s actions in the run-up to the election, with workers voting 2,654 to 2,131 to unionize, have been criticized by organizers and regulators alike. The company has been accused of breaking up unions, preventing workers from exercising their rights and firing workers in retaliation for organizing. Amazon has challenged the election results, saying the union and the National Labor Relations Board “oppressed and influenced” voters.
Amazon firing underperforming staff isn’t necessarily uncommon. A report from last year noted that Amazon’s goal is to let its worst-performing employees go each year, sometimes without much warning. But it seems unlikely that this is the case here; the Time notes that some of them had recently received positive feedback on their performance and that the timing of the layoffs is not in line with Amazon’s performance review cycle.
The company did not immediately respond to The edge‘s request for comment on the layoffs, but it told Engadget that it “spent time evaluating aspects of operations and leadership at JFK8 and made some management changes as a result.”