The NLRB is suing Amazon to give a fired activist his job back

Amazon is facing a lawsuit in federal court from the National Labor Relations Board. The watchdog has asked a judge to issue an injunction forcing Amazon to give labor activist Gerald Bryson his job back. Amazon fired Bryson in April 2020, in what the NLRB says is a clear case of Amazon retaliating against him for protesting unsafe working conditions at its JFK8 warehouse in Staten Island, NY.

According to the NLRB, the Section 10(j) injunction it pursues is intended to temporarily rectify a situation when the lawsuit could take too long to resolve the alleged problem. In this case, Bryson has been fighting to get his job back for nearly two years, according to… The New York Times† The NLRB petition (which you can read in full below) argues that other employees may be afraid to speak out if Bryson isn’t reinstated, because it sees Bryson’s firing as a message from Amazon to its employees. That’s especially relevant now, as workers at the JFK8 warehouse will vote on unionization starting next Friday, March 25.

In a statement emailed to: The edgeNLRB Regional Director Kathy Drew King said:

We are requesting an injunction in court to immediately reinstate an employee whom Amazon illegally fired for exercising its Section 7 rights. We are also asking the court to order a mandatory meeting at JFK8 with all employees at which Amazon will read a workers’ rights notice under the National Labor Relations Act. No matter how big the employer is, it’s important that workers know their rights — especially during union elections — and that the NLRB will defend them vociferously.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

For Bryson, the process was frustrating. In conversation with The edgehe said the systems to fight back against big companies like Amazon are outdated and need to be rebuilt — “those places are made for little people to fight in, but we can’t. It’s like being told, ‘Hey , here’s a boxing ring, but you don’t get gloves.’” He also said he’d been frustrated to see Amazon arranging other cases brought by employees as he went on.

“This is not a lawsuit where someone is suing for me; this is my life,” he said, speaking of his struggle with being out of a job as a single father. Despite that frustration, Bryson says he’s “fighting to the end. And hoping to make a difference for other people who work at Amazon.

Bryson says he is one of the leaders of the Amazon Labor Union, the organization that leads the unions at the JFK8 warehouse where Bryson used to work. The ALU is also involved in efforts at another Amazon Staten Island facility, LDJ5, where organizers have been given the go-ahead to continue unionization efforts. The process to decide the election details is underway. The union is led by Christian Smalls, another Amazon employee.

According to The New York TimesAmazon has said it fired Bryson after he got into a heated screaming match with another warehouse worker while attending a protest, which the company said was a clear case of bullying and harassment.

Bryson says the company has a zero-tolerance policy for fights, meaning if two employees argue, the policy is to fire them both. He also denies starting the argument, saying he submitted video evidence to prove it in court.

Bryson was “the public face of the organizing movement for improved COVID-19 health and safety practices at the JFK8 Facility” before Amazon fired him, according to the NLRB’s petition. The company faced heavy criticism from employees for how it handled the pandemic at JFK8 and similar facilities, and the New York Attorney General filed a lawsuit last year alleging the company failed to protect its employees from COVID .

Amazon has received other lawsuits from the NLRB over its actions at its Staten Island facilities during union activities. In a complaint released earlier this year, the labor watchdog accused the company of “threatening, monitoring and questioning” employees. The complaint alleged that security personnel at the warehouses had confiscated unionized materials from organizers, the company called the organizers “criminals”, and that it promised to solve the workers’ problems themselves if they turned down union efforts.

In December, the NLRB reached a settlement with Amazon that required the company to notify employees of their rights to organize through emails, a notice on an internal app and website, and physically posted signs. While these notices were a step forward, the NLRB’s proposed meeting (which also includes the posting of written notices) would likely draw significantly more attention to employees. In the settlement, Amazon also agreed to allow employees to organize on company premises outside of their working hours, something they were reportedly not allowed to do before.

Frank Broholm had acquired considerable experience in writing and editing publications before recruited by The Media Today Chronicle News portal as Editorial Manager. His key task is to conduct effective business reviews based on the most recent business…