“Designed to Create a Climate of Fear”: Amazon VP Quits After Company Fires Activists

“It’s evidence of a vein of toxicity running through the company culture,” he said.

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Tim Bray, a vice president at Amazon, announced he’s leaving the company because of the “chickenshit” firing of activists who spoke about conditions at the company’s massive warehouses.

Bray, a high-level engineer at Amazon Web Services, laid out his complaints and reasons for stepping away in a damning blog post worth reading in full.

It centers on Amazon’s warehouse policies, which—as we’ve reported on before—have been the target of employee strikes for increased safety, pay, and workplace protections. Workers say there is a lack of personal protective gear, inability to stay six feet apart, and not enough cleaning. (The company told Mother Jones, in a previous statement, that safety measures, including masks, temperature checks, and hand sanitizer are “standard” across facilities; that social distancing has been implemented; and that protest numbers “grossly exaggerated.”) Last week, a group of Amazon employees, organized under the banner “Amazon Employees for Climate Justice,” held a town hall to discuss conditions in the warehouses.

Amazon’s response has been retribution.

Chris Smalls, a worker at a State Island Amazon warehouse, was fired soon after leading a protest (Amazon says for violating a 14-day quarantine). And two organizers with Amazon Employees for Climate Justice—Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa—were fired for organizing the town hall, Bray says. “The justifications were laughable,” he writes, “it was clear to any reasonable observer that they were turfed for whistleblowing.”

“It’s evidence of a vein of toxicity running through the company culture,” he continues. “I choose neither to serve nor drink that poison.”

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Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

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