Staten Island Workers Vote for Amazon’s First Unionized Warehouse in U.S.
#evolve Magazine
July 15, 2022

CNBC has reported that employees at an Amazon warehouse on New York’s Staten Island voted to join a union, a groundbreaking move for organized labor and a stinging defeat for the e-commerce giant, which has aggressively fought unionization efforts at the company.

The Staten Island facility, known as JFK8, employs roughly 6,000 workers. It’s the first time an Amazon facility in the United States has successfully voted to unionize.

By voting in the Amazon Labor Union, Staten Island workers could challenge Amazon’s current labor model, which is the backbone of its Prime two-day shipping promise. Unions stand to disrupt the level of control that Amazon exerts over its warehouse and delivery employees, like their ability to unilaterally set the pace of work and hourly wages, labor experts previously told CNBC.

Amazon still faces another labor battle at its Bessemer, Ala. warehouse. The NLRB called for a do-over election in November 2021, after it determined Amazon improperly interfered in the first election, which was held last spring.

As of press time, Amazon is seeking to overturn the union victory, and a virtual hearing has begun.

Activision Blizzard to Pay $18 Million to Victims of Harassment and Discrimination

According to the Los Angeles Times, Activision Blizzard has agreed to set up an $18 million fund for employees who experienced sexual harassment or discrimination, pregnancy discrimination or retaliation as part of a settlement with a federal employment agency.

The consent decree, which a federal judge said she intended to sign following a hearing, comes in response to a lawsuit filed against the Santa Monica, Calif. video game company in September 2021 by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which alleged that Activision employees were subject to “severe” and “pervasive” sexual harassment in the workplace.

Any individuals who worked at the company after September 2016 and believe they were subject to harassment, discrimination or retaliation are eligible to apply for a share of the cash payout. The company denied all wrongdoing as part of the settlement, which also included requirements for regular audits overseen by the federal agency over the next three years and anti-harassment trainings.

To receive money from the $18 million fund, however, recipients must sign a document that waives their rights to recover any monetary damages or other relief that may come from the California lawsuit for sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination or related retaliation.

EEOC Adds Nonbinary Option to Discrimination Charge Intake Process

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is now offering individuals the option to select a nonbinary “X” gender marker during the voluntary self-identification questions that are part of the intake process for filing a charge of discrimination, according to the organization.

“Recognizing that the binary construction of gender as either ‘male’ or ‘female’ does not reflect the full range of gender identities, the EEOC will add an option to mark ‘X’ during two critical stages of the intake and charge filing process,” the EEOC said.

The organization will update the voluntary demographic questions relating to gender in the online public portal that members of the public use to submit inquiries about filing a charge of discrimination, as well as the online Spanish initial consultation form and pre-charge inquiry form that are sometimes used in lieu of the portal. The EEOC will also modify its charge of discrimination form to include “Mx” in the list of prefix options.

“The addition of a nonbinary gender marker to the EEOC’s charge intake process will be an important step to promote greater inclusion for members of the LGBTQI+ community,” EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows said in a statement.

Court Strikes Down California Law Mandating Board Diversity

As Newsweek reported, a Los Angeles court judge has deemed a California law that obliged corporations to include board members from “underrepresented communities” as unconstitutional.

Signed into law in September 2020 by California Gov. Gavin Newsom, the bill required publicly held companies in California to “push for diversity on their boards of directors by January 2023,” according to Newsweek. Companies were given until Dec. 31, 2021 to have a member on their boards from groups including LGBTQ, Black, Latino, Asian, Native American or Pacific Islander.

Conservative legal group Judicial Watch, however, sought a permanent injunction against the legislation, which also mandated companies with between four and nine directors to include at least two board members from underrepresented groups by the end of 2022.

As Newsweek noted, those organizations with nine or more directors were required to include at least three members from the aforementioned groups, with a failure to comply resulting in fines anywhere between $100,000 and $300,000.

“Supporters of the legislation had argued that their case for greater inclusion on boards had been bolstered by the coronavirus pandemic disproportionately affecting minorities,” according to Newsweek, noting that the bill’s co-author, Assemblyman Chris Holden, described the legislation as “a big step forward for racial equity.”

In a statement, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton praised the court’s decision, describing the bill as “one of the most blatant and significant attacks in the modern era on constitutional prohibitions against discrimination.”

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