E-commerce giant, Amazon has fired Alabama warehouse worker Jennifer Bates, who made an effort to organise the company’s first US union in Alabama.
Bates helped lead a milestone to form what would have been the company’s first US union at a warehouse in Alabama, CNN reports.
She also became the face to unionize an Amazon facility in Bessemer, Alabama, back in 2021 when she testified before lawmakers about her “grueling” experience working at the company.
Bates who narrated her experience before she was fired said on Friday she was fired by Amazon after returning from medical leave following injuries sustained on the job.
Interestingly, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) spearheaded the so-far unsuccessful effort to unionize the Bessemer facility.
In response to the sack Bates in a statement on Friday said, “I’ve given my back to Amazon these past three years. I’ve given my arms and shoulders to Amazon these past three years. And I’ve given every fiber of my soul into organizing Amazon these past three years,”
“For them to treat me like this is unfathomable.”
“But let me be clear, Amazon,” she added, “your termination of my employment will not stifle workers organizing, for when you fire leaders, it only brings more people ignited into the movement.”
Speaking to CNN, an Amazon spokesperson said Bates “has the opportunity to appeal the decision.”
“Our records indicate that Ms. Bates failed to show up to work for a period of time and didn’t respond or provide documentation to excuse her absences,” Mary Kate Paradis, an Amazon spokesperson, told CNN in a statement. “We work hard to accommodate our team’s needs for personal leaves of absence, but like any employer, we ask our employees to meet certain minimum expectations for leave approval.”
The firing threatens to renew tensions between Amazon and workers who were spurred to organize earlier in the pandemic amid frustrations with the company’s response to the health crisis and a broader spotlight on racial inequities in the United States.