Amazon has fired two employees with ties to the grassroots union that led the first successful U.S. organizing effort in the retail giant’s history.
The company confirmed Tuesday that it fired Michal, or ‘Mat,’ Cusick and Tristan Dutchin of the Amazon Labor Union on Staten Island, New York. But it said the “cases are unrelated to each other and unrelated to whether these individuals support any particular cause or group.”
Cusick, who worked at a nearby Amazon warehouse from the one that voted to unionize last month, said he was fired because of COVID-related leave. He said he was informed by an agent from the company’s employee resource center that he was allowed to go on leave until April 29, but was later fired because the leave period extended only until April 26.
Cusick said he was locked out of Amazon’s internal employee system on May 2 without any notice. The following day, he said he called the employee resource center and was told about his termination.
In a letter sent on May 4, the company told Cusick he was fired for “voluntary resignation due to job abandonment.” Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel said in a statement Tuesday that Cusick had “failed to show up for work since an approved leave ended in late April, despite our team reaching out to him and even extending his leave.
“While we normally wouldn’t discuss personnel issues, we think it’s important to clear up some misinformation here,” Nantel said.
Nantel said Dutchin, another organizer who worked at the facility that voted to unionize, was fired because he failed to meet productivity goals.
She said Dutchin “had been given five warnings since last summer for performance issues and was consistently performing in the bottom 3% compared to his peers, despite being offered additional training.”
“We work hard to accommodate our team’s needs, but like any employer, we ask our employees to meet certain minimum expectations and take appropriate action when they’re unable to do that,” Nantel said.
Dutchin did not respond to a request for comment.