Amazon has fired two employees linked to the grassroots mobilization that led to the creation of the retail giant’s first-ever union.
The company confirmed Tuesday that it has fired Michal, or ‘Mat,’ Cusick and Tristan Dutchin from the Amazon Workers Union in Staten Island, New York. But he assured that the “cases are not related to each other and are not related to the support of these individuals to any cause or group.”
Cusick, who worked at a neighboring Amazon warehouse he decided to unionize with last month, said he was laid off because of a COVID-19-related furlough. He said he was told by an agent at the company’s labor resource center that he was on leave until April 29, but then he was fired because his leave expired on April 26.
“They say after the facts, after I was fired, that the COVID leave was extended until the 26th,” said Cusick, the union’s communications chief. “I was fired for that discrepancy.”
Cusick said he was locked out of Amazon’s internal employee system on May 2 without notice. The next day, he said, he called the employee center and was notified of his dismissal.
In a letter dated May 4, the company told Cusick it was firing him for “job abandonment.” Amazon spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said in a statement Tuesday that Cusick “did not report to work after a furlough ended in late April despite our team reaching out to him and even extending his furlough.”
Nantel said Dutchin, another warehouse official who voted to unionize, was fired for failing to meet productivity goals. He stated that Dutchin “was issued five warnings since last summer for performance issues and consistently ranked in the bottom 3% compared to his peers despite being offered additional training.”
“We seek to meet the needs of our team, but like any employer, we ask our employees to meet certain minimum expectations and take appropriate action when they are unable to do so,” Nantel said.
Dutchin did not respond to a request for comment.