Fired Amazon union organizer in Alabama reinstated after filing a complaint, union says

FILE - The Amazon logo is displayed, Sept. 6, 2012, in Santa Monica, Calif. The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union said Thursday, June 15, 2023, that a union organizer who was fired by Amazon was reinstated by the company after she filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File) (Reed Saxon, Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistribu)

A union organizer who was fired by Amazon was reinstated by the company after she filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, according to the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.

The union had said earlier this month that Jennifer Bates, who also testified before a Senate committee at a hearing on income inequality, was terminated while tending to injuries she received while working at an Amazon facility in Bessemer, Alabama. The labor group had also said Amazon refused to make workplace adjustments for Bates, who was outspoken about workplace safety issues at the company.

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“If there’s a lesson to be learned it’s that today Amazon workers everywhere now know that when you’re under attack, you have to stand up and fight back, because when we fight, clearly, we win!” Bates said in a prepared statement released by the union.

Meanwhile, Stuart Appelbaum, the union’s president, accused the e-commerce giant of attempting to stifle “one of the most outspoken leaders of the contemporary labor movement.”

″Jennifer made it clear that despite the company’s extraordinary power and resources, she would not be silenced – nor will we," he said.

An Amazon spokesperson said during the appeals review, the company determined Bates had failed to be responsive to multiple requests for information regarding her leave. But the spokesperson said there were things the company could have done better to ensure Bates had clarity around what was needed — which is why she's being reinstated. The company said it also encouraged her to file an appeal.

“After a full review of her case, the decision was made to reinstate her," said Amazon spokesperson Mary Kate Paradis. "We’re pleased that our appeal process continues to work as designed.”

The RWDSU has long been a foe of Amazon, which is attempting to fend off organized labor from its vast network of warehouses. The company and the union are still contesting the results of a union election held last year in Bessemer, Alabama, which remains too close to call with 416 challenged ballots still waiting for adjudication.

Amazon said Bates will get reinstated with backpay, as would be the case for any employee in a similar situation.