New York CNN
Amazon has reinstated a union worker who was fired by the company earlier this month.
Amazon confirmed on Thursday that Jennifer Bates, who was the face of a unionization effort at an Amazon facility located in Bessemer Alabama, had been reinstated following the appeals process. Bates was terminated by Amazon in early July.
Bates, in a statement released Thursday, said that Amazon had made a mistake by firing her. The company tried to stifle the movement with their actions, but it was resisted. I am incredibly humbled at the outpouring support from around the world for my unjust termination.
Bates' reinstatement will include back pay, per Amazon’s standard procedure.
Amazon said at the time that records showed 'that Ms. Bates had failed to report to work for an extended period and did not respond or provide documentation as to her absences'. Amazon fired Bates after she returned from medical leave due to injuries suffered on the job. The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which led the effort, so far unsuccessful, to unionize Bessemer, claimed at the time.
Amazon claims that during its appeals process it found that Bates failed to provide additional information about her leave. However, the company should have been clearer in stating what information they needed.
Amazon spokesperson Mary Kate Paradis told CNN in a press release that Ms. Bates was given the chance to appeal her termination and she did. After a thorough review of the case, it was decided to reinstate Bates.
Bates' firing threatened to reignite tensions between Amazon and its workers, who had organized earlier during the pandemic due to frustrations over the company's handling of the crisis. The issue was also brought to light by the racial injustices in the United States. Bates, in 2021, testified to lawmakers about her "grueling" experience working in one of Amazon's warehouses.
Amazon workers in a New York Warehouse voted last year to form the first US union for the company, but Amazon has refused to acknowledge the union since then or to come to the table to bargain. Amazon workers at a New York warehouse voted to form the company's first US union last year, but Amazon has refused to recognize the union or come to the bargaining table.
The results of the closely watched union elections at Bessemer were too close to call because hundreds of ballots challenged. The National Labor Relations Board continues to review challenges filed by Amazon's union, which accused the company of illegal conduct during the campaign. Amazon has filed its own objections regarding the RWDSU’s conduct.