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7 Jun 2022

USA: Amazon accused of violating international standards on freedom of association amid alleged anti-union campaigns; incl. co. response

In March 2022, Amazon announced a new policy on freedom of association and collective bargaining, which describes it as being informed by the frameworks and standards of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the International Labour Organization.

In May 2022,an assessment of Amazon's policy found it was was non-compliant with international labour standards, and that the actions of Amazon's management before and after the introduction of the policy continued to violate international standards. The findings include: alleged violations of "non-interference in workers' organising"; anti-union discrimination; a "communications offensive" to pressure and instil fear in the weeks leading up to union elections; the dismissal of a union activist in Staten Island; and Amazon's refusal to accept the union vote results at the JFK8 facility in Staten Island, which became the first unionised Amazon facility in the United States.

It has since been reported that at least six managers involved in the union at the Staten Island facility have been dismissed.

In May 2022, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Amazon to respond to the study's findings, and reports that managers involved in the union at the JFK8 Staten Island warehouse had been dismissed. Amazon said its communication with employees prior to and during election periods were conducted in full compliance of applicable law, and that the dismissal of a union leader at the Staten Island warehouse was due to their conduct in the workplace. Amazon also said the dismissal of senior managers at the Staten Island warehouse was part of management changes following evaluations of the operations and leadership at the warehouse. The full response can be found below.