News & Commentary

October 20, 2022

Miriam Shestack

Miriam Shestack is a student at Harvard Law School.

In today’s News and Commentary: Amazon and the New York AG agree to dismiss as ongoing lawsuit, Amazon workers walk out for Prime Day, Planned Parenthood faces accusations of race discrimination, and a mine explosion in Turkey leaves 41 workers dead.

Amazon and the New York Attorney General’s Office have agreed to the dismiss an Amazon federal lawsuit challenging the state’s authority to regulate worker safety in the Amazon warehouses, Bloomberg reports. At issue in the case, Inc. v. James , 2d Cir., No. 21-2007,  was whether the attorney general’s enforcement of state regulations protecting workers from COVID-19 in two Amazon distribution centers on Staten Island starting in 2020 was preempted by federal enforcement of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) rules and laws. The stipulation of dismissal was filed with the US Court of Appeals of the Second Circuit on Wednesday in a letter. Attorneys for both sides said they’ve agreed to “cease all litigation of this matter.”

Meanwhile, workers at Amazon facilities across the country saw the recent October Prime Day as an opportunity to show their strength and make demands on the company. Luis Feliz Leon gives an in-depth breakdown of the strategies that workers deployed last week in an in-depth breakdown for Labor Notes. Workers participated walkouts at four distinct warehouse types in the company’s logistics chain—a cross-dock near Chicago, a delivery station and a fulfillment center near Atlanta, and in Southern California, one of the company’s large air hubs. Although the walkouts were not centrally coordinated, they were all timed to coincide with the company’s Prime Day promotional sales rush, which ran October 10 to 12.In some cases workers have employed tactics different from those recommended by existing union leadership, taking the unique challenges posed by the exhausting and isolating nature of Amazon warehouses into account. Across facilities, workers say they are overworked and underpaid, squeezed by rising inflation and terrible conditions.

A former Planned Parenthood Federation of America employee has filed a lawsuit alleging claiming that she was fired in 2021 after complaining about systemic racial discrimination in the organization. Nicole Moore, served as director of multicultural brand engagement for about two years and alleges she was unlawfully terminated in November 2021. She further complains that senior executives blatantly ignored reports from dozens of Black employees about unequal hiring, promotion, and overt hostility. The complaint also includes the names and accounts of other Black women at Planned Parenthood who allege racism at work. Planned Parenthood denied the discrimination claim. “Our staff is at the core of who we are and we work everyday to ensure a safe and welcoming environment,” interim general counsel Susan Manning said in an emailed statement shared with Bloomberg.

Around the world, the death toll from an explosion in a mine in Amsara Turkey on October 14 has reached 41. Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogan traveled to the scene of the explosion and vowed to mining disasters. However, workers doubt this commitment. The head of DISK, a left-wing trade union, said in a statement shared by NPR that they were “sad and angry” because deaths were preventable and the union’s safety suggestions were ignored. Even though more inspections were mandated after the country’s worst mining disaster in Soma in 2014, DISK’s leader Arzu Cerkezoglu claimed some precautions were ignored for profitability, calling Friday’s explosion a “massacre.”

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