On the Picket Line

Amazon worker, who spoke out for union, challenges firing

By Brian Williams
April 8, 2019

NEW YORK — A worker who spoke out against poor conditions at the Amazon fulfillment center in Staten Island is challenging his firing by the company. The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union submitted a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board March 20, charging the firing was illegal retaliation for union organizing. 

Justin Rashad Long started working at Amazon in October. The company promised to provide a shuttle service to get to work, he said. Instead, his commute on public transportation took four hours a day. He participated in a union rally on the steps of City Hall Dec. 12. Long said workers often face 12-hour shifts five or six days a week, unreasonable production quotas and unsafe working conditions. 

“They talk to you like you’re nothing — all they care about is their numbers,” he told Bloomberg News before the protest. “They talk to you like you’re a robot.” 

Amazon issued a statement saying Long’s “allegations are false.”

The Staten Island facility employs a few thousand workers and uses robots throughout the plant. Amazon fired Long Feb. 12, claiming he violated a “serious safety policy.” According to charges the union filed with the NLRB Long had stepped into a robot-only section to pick up a product that “fell off a robot, which was close to where he was working.”