Amazon excludes furloughed warehouse workers from its buildings

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Amazon is banning off-duty warehouse workers from company facilities, which organizers say can hamper labor campaigns.

Under the policy shared with workers on Amazon’s internal app, employees are not permitted to access buildings or other work areas during their scheduled days off, and before or after their shifts. work.

An Amazon spokesperson said the policy does not prohibit furloughed employees from engaging co-workers in “no-work zones” outside of company buildings.

“There is nothing more important than the safety of our employees and the physical security of our buildings,” Amazon spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said. “This building access policy applies to building interiors and work areas. This does not limit employee access to non-working areas outside of our facilities. »

The notice of the new policy, dated Thursday, says the furlough rule “will not be applied in a discriminatory manner” against employees seeking to unionize. But organizers say the policy itself will hamper their efforts to win support from their colleagues during the campaigns.

“On our days off, we come in to work and engage our co-workers in the break rooms,” said the Reverend Ryan Brown, an Amazon warehouse worker in Garner, North Carolina, who aims to organize his workplace after the union victory on Staten Island, New York, where workers at an Amazon warehouse voted in April to unionize.

“It was a direct response to that, trying to shut down the organization by any means necessary,” Brown said.

Amazon had previously barred employees from non-working areas beyond 15 minutes before or after their shift. The company reversed that policy in December, when it reached an agreement with the National Labor Relations Board to allow workers to organize more freely. Amazon also agreed to notify workers in case it chooses to “reinstate a legal rule regarding after-hours employee access” to its facilities. A spokesperson for the NLRB declined to comment on the company’s new policy.

In the notice sent to employees, Amazon said it strives to create a safe environment for employees. “Part of that is knowing who is in our buildings at any given time, so we can quickly find and report on everyone in an emergency,” the notice reads.

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