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Union leader, state representative praise Amazon ruling

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(The Center Square) – Wisconsin AFL-CIO President Stephanie Bloomingdale and state Rep. Christine Sinicki are celebrating a state Supreme Court dismissal Tuesday in favor of fired Amazon drivers.

Justices let stand a lower court ruling that some of the retail giant’s delivery drivers qualify as employees. Amazon said they were independent contractors.

“Far too often, especially in the emerging gig economy, big and powerful companies like Amazon use the misclassification of employees as independent contractors to deny working people essential workplace rights like minimum wages, overtime pay, and unemployment insurance,” Bloomingdale said in a statement. “The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling is a win for working people and marks an important victory in the fight to combat worker misclassification in Wisconsin and the United States.”

Sinicki, a Democrat representing Milwaukee, said the workers deserve benefits afforded to them when properly classified.

“I hope,” she said, “these decisions will act as firm guideposts for businesses, workers, and the lower courts in the future when it comes to classifying workers in the transportation gig economy.”

Dismissal of the case, thereby letting stand an appellate court’s ruling last year, was by unanimous decision. Justice Ann Walsh Bradley said reviewing the lower court’s ruling “would not serve any meaningful purpose.”

An Amazon Flex driver filed for unemployment benefits after being fired. The ruling found those workers are part of the state’s unemployment insurance system.

A tax bill of more than $200,000 is likely for Amazon subsidiary, Amazon Logistics

Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development said Amazon owed the driver benefits.

DWD took it a step further and said Amazin owed over $200,000 to other drivers who were fired between 2016 and 2018.

Amazon spokesman Steve Kelly on Tuesday said the company was disappointed the Wisconsin Supreme Court “declined to weigh in and provide much needed guidance” on employees and the gig economy.

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