Labor board reportedly sides with Amazon workers who protested COVID-19 safety policies

Amazon and US labor regulators are reportedly negotiating a settlement for workers who protested Amazon’s COVID-19 safety standards. The Intercept reports that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) found merit in a retaliation complaint from Chicago warehouse employees. According to text messages obtained by The Intercept, the NLRB said on March 10th that “Amazon has stated its intent to settle.”

Workers have requested, among other things, that Amazon contact employees and “make clear that their rights will not be violated again.” The complaint alleged that Amazon unlawfully retaliated against workers after they launched a series of safety strikes last year, asking for the company to cover COVID-19 medical costs and offer more transparency if a person on-site contracted the coronavirus. Amazon and the NLRB did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The NLRB can’t assess penalties against Amazon, but it can require “make-whole remedies” that prevent future violations. As The Intercept explains, an investigation can also push companies to back off of intimidation campaigns or other offenses, making it easier for employees to organize.

If a settlement isn’t reached, the NLRB could issue a formal complaint and schedule a hearing on the case. That’s what happened last December, when it found merit in a complaint from Philadelphia employee Courtney Bowden. Last month, the NLRB also sided with Alabama workers seeking to vote on a union, denying Amazon’s request to delay the vote. That vote — which could mark the first US employee union in Amazon’s history — will conclude at the end of March.

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