- The Amazon tech workers who have been lobbying for climate policies and better conditions for warehouse workers are organising another protest.
- They say that hundreds of the company’s tech workers will call in sick on Friday to protest the firings of workers who were fired for speaking out.
- This includes the two leaders of the protest group, fired earlier this month, and several warehouse workers fired after speaking out about conditions during the coronavirus pandemic.
- The group is pushing Amazon for a long list of climate and worker reforms. Last year, Amazon announced a host of new climate proposals after the group organised other protests.
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The Amazon tech workers who have been publicly lobbying the company to commit to major climate policies and to improve treatment of warehouse workers are organising another protest.
On Friday, April 24, the employee group known as Amazon Employees for Climate Justice (AECJ) is asking Amazon tech workers to call in sick or take the day off as a form of virtual walkout. The group says that hundreds of Amazon employees will participate.
The group has been asking Amazon employees to indicate their interest via a post on Medium using a method outside the company’s email and internal communications.
“Amazon has repeatedly tried to censor the event by deleting the invitation on employees’ calendars multiple times,” the group alleges in its press release.
The “sick in” is to protest a laundry list of grievances, among them is that Amazon fired the group’s leaders, Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa on April 10. AECJ has been pushing Amazon to adopt a set of very specific climate change policies including such as zero emissions by 2030. The group was also calling on the company to stop using its cloud computing services to help oil companies.
An Amazon spokesperson tells us, “We support every employee’s right to criticise their employer’s working conditions, but that does not come with blanket immunity against any and all internal policies. We terminated these employees for repeatedly violating internal policies.”
Last September, after the group organised and staged protests,Amazon changed its communications policy to require employees to get prior company approval to speak about Amazon in any public forum, including social media. This change in policy is one of the agenda items that they are now protesting.
The group’s visibility did help push Amazon into announcing a suite of new climate policies last year, including a promise to be net zero carbon across their businesses by 2040 and to be 100% renewable energy by 2030. In February, Bezos also promised to donate $US10 billion of his own money in grants to fund scientists, activists and NGOs.
The protest group has also also been vocal supporters of Amazon warehouse workers as they have lobbied for better working conditions. And tomorrow’s protest will include similar support, particularly for the warehouse workers in New York and Minnesota who were fired after they protested safety measures at distribution centres during the Coronavirus epidemic.
Amazon tells Bsuiness Insider it did not fire those workers for organizaing a protest but for violiating other policies. It says that one of them was told he was in was in close contact with another worker with a confirmed case of COVID-19, was asked to remain home with pay for 14-days, but that he came to the workplace instead. It says it fired the other over various violations involving language, behaviour and social distancing regulations.
Among the group’s demands is to disclose the company’s COVID-19 tracking, to increases wages for warehouse workers during the pandemic, for two-weeks paid sick leave for warehouse workers, and to end punishment of warehouse workers for those who don’t meet Amazon’s rate of how fast they are required to work.
To that end, the group plans to have a union representative speak during a day of online events planned: AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka as well as former labour secretary Robert Reich, and climate justice activist Naomi Klein.
This protest comes the same week that Business Insider reported that Amazon-owned Whole Foods is quietly tracking its employees with a heat map tool that ranks which stores are most at risk of unionizing
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