Recent News from Digital Trends

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A pregnant worker and labor activist says Amazon made her pick up trash alone

Two Amazon employees have accused the company of retaliating against them for their efforts to organize workers at a warehouse in Liverpool, New York. Ashley Mercer and Jason Main filed an unfair labor practice complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on May 17th.

According to Vice News, Amazon tasked Mercer last week with picking up cigarette butts, broken glass and other discarded trash in the parking lot of its SYR1 warehouse in Liverpool. Mercer told the outlet her manager sent her out alone and without water or sunscreen on a day when the temperature went above 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Making the optics of the situation worse, Mercer is about six months pregnant, putting her at the end of her second trimester. “Approved for 10 hours parking lot clean-up,” an accommodation report obtained by Vice states. 

On the same day, the company suspended Mercer’s partner, Jason Main, who is also named in the NLRB complaint. Amazon later fired him for reportedly not using a step stool for moving merchandise. Mercer and Main have both been involved in agitating on behalf of the Amazon Labor Union (ALU) at a variety of warehouses in New York. Additionally, the two have come to work at the Liverpool facility wearing ALU-branded shirts and masks, while Mercer has also done the same at two warehouses in nearby Syracuse, and passed out leaflets at JFK8, the Staten Island facility that became the first unionized Amazon warehouse in the US last month.

“It wasn’t until I started mentioning that I am part of Amazon Labor Union that they pulled me out of my position and put me outside the building,” Mercer told Vice. “I think it’s retaliation because I’m a big part of [the ALU] and it feels like as soon as you bring up the union, they treat you differently.”

We’ve reached out to Amazon for comment.

Amazon has yet to recognize the ALU. In April, the company challenged the result of the JFK8 vote, accusing the organization of threatening employees unless they voted to unionize. It also recently fired two employees who were involved in organizing that facility, and ALU itself was born out of the company’s termination of founder Christian Smalls, a former worker at the JFK8 facility.

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