Amazon confirms with Luck the source of the fire and “a small number of employees have been suspended from investigation” while the company investigates the events.
Amazon union leaders tell Post that the workers had difficulty breathing amid the smoke. They added that one worker was ultimately hospitalized, but Amazon said it received no such reports.
The fire happened before the shift change: While day shift workers get paid to go home, night shift workers announced to CBS New York they had not been warned of the fire before entering the warehouse, where they said smoke was still in the air.
“They didn’t show us proof that it was safe to work there,” warehouse worker Eli Andino told the local outlet. “They just told us to get to work immediately.”
“It’s just an unsafe work environment,” co-worker Leo Shockey added.
In response, about 100 workers protested by refusing to work under the aforementioned conditions. One video posted by the Amazon Labor Union showing workers can be seen chanting “take us home”.
“The workers do not feel safe returning to work. They have engaged in rights that have been protected for 85 years under the National Labor Relations Act,” said Seth Goldstein, Amazon Labor Union labor attorney. Post. He added that the resulting suspension, which reportedly included a dozen union leaders and 40 warehouse workers, was a “violation of workers’ rights.”
Paul Flaningan, Amazon spokesman, said Luck that the workers present at the time of the fire were safely evacuated and that the warehouse was deemed safe for the workers’ next shift.
“The FDNY certified the building as safe, and at that time we asked all night shift employees to report on their regularly scheduled shifts,” he said. “While the vast majority of employees reported to their workstations, a small group refused to return to work and remained in the building without permission.”
The Amazon Labor Union says otherwise. Surname wrote on Twitter. “Many workers unwittingly join this action because they come to the office to complain.”
Surname added to Twitter thread that management said up to 80 workers involved were suspended.
Employees at the Staten Island facility have long campaigned for union recognition, voting in a historic election to join the independent Amazon Labor Union. April. The results at the Staten Island facility proved to be a big win, as the collective became the company’s first US union.
Amazon has push back against unions and CEO Andrew Jassy was ask politely authenticity of the vote, citing what he called “a lot of very disturbing anomalies.” The battle for union recognition continues, as employees in Albany will vote next week on whether they will join the Amazon alliance.
Register Fortune feature email list so you don’t miss our biggest features, exclusive interviews and surveys.