Amazon VP quits over firings of workers raising safety concerns
A vice president at Amazon Web Service (AWS) has quit his job 'in dismay' at the conglomerate's decision to fire workers who publicly raised questions over the company's coronavirus safety measures for warehouses. Tim Bray said the crackdown on the whistleblowers showed "a vein of toxicity running through the company culture" - something he could not tolerate any longer. Here's more about it.
In a recent blog post revealing why he decided to call it quits after working at AWS for five years, Bray noted multiple instances of whistleblower firings. He said he initially tried raising concerns internally but soon realized that "remaining an Amazon VP would have meant, in effect, signing off on actions I despised" and ultimately tendered his resignation.
While detailing the case, Bray even named the victims of Amazon's crackdown, saying that some of them were "Courtney Bowden, Gerald Bryson, Maren Costa, Emily Cunningham, Bashir Mohammed, and Chris Smalls." "The victims weren't abstract entities but real people," he said, adding that "I'm sure it's a coincidence that every one of them is a person of color, a woman, or both."
As The Verge reports, Cunningham and Costa were fired earlier this month after they criticized warehouse conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic on Twitter. They had also previously criticized Amazon's climate policies.
Bray went on to say that Amazon workers have little power in comparison to higher-paid employees in the current structure of the company. He said, "The warehouse workers are weak and getting weaker, what with mass unemployment and job-linked health insurance. So they're gonna get treated like crap, because capitalism. Any plausible solution has to start with increasing their collective strength."
Amazon has not commented on the blog post from Bray but has defended its actions in the past. The e-commerce giant has been drawing a lot of flak for not doing enough to protect warehouse workers - like supplying enough PPE kits and communicating about positive COVID-19 cases in the warehouse - and firing those raising their voice or organizing protests/walkouts against it.
"The big problem is that Amazon treats the humans in the warehouses as fungible units of pick-and-pack potential," Bray wrote, adding the company "has a corresponding lack of vision about the human costs of the relentless growth and accumulation of wealth and power."