Tim Bray, a senior engineer at Amazon, resigned on Friday due to concerns about the company’s decision to fire workers who drew attention to unsafe conditions in its warehouse.
Two previous user experience designers who criticized Amazon’s climate stance and, recently, the treatment of warehouse workers amid the COVID-19, Emily Cunningham, and Maren Costa, were fired last month. Both of them, Maren Costa and Emily Cunningham made offers on Twitter to match donations up to $500 to support the warehouse workers at Amazon. Not only those but Amazon has also fired many warehouse employees who criticized Amazon’s working conditions at its facilities.
Tim Bray, who worked at Amazon for over five years, said that he “snapped” after the company started firing the activist employees and warehouse workers, who he said were disproportionately women, minorities, or both. In addition, he described Amazon’s actions as “chickenshit” and “designed to create a climate of fear.”
The former vice president and engineer for Amazon Web Services, Amazon’s cloud computing division, Tim Bray, wrote in a fiery blog post “I quit in dismay at Amazon firing whistleblowers who were making noise about employees frightened of Covid-19″ Tim Bray said his last day at Amazon was May 1, he added that quitting will also cost him over $1 million in lost salary and stock.
However, Bray did not reply to a request for comment, and Amazon refused to comment on Bray’s resignation as well.
Before Bray resigned, he had shown support for an employee advocacy group, Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, which Costa and Cunningham were also a part of. Additionally, he signed onto an April letter to CEO Jeff Bezos and Amazon’s board of directors, that received over 8,700 signatures, calling on the company to develop a comprehensive climate change plan.
Emily Cunningham Said “Bray’s resignation could spark similar moves from other corporate Amazon employees who want to see meaningful changes made at the company” she also added, “I think people, in general, want to work for companies that they feel proud of,” in addition to she mentioned, “Amazon has an incredible opportunity to lead both in the coronavirus crisis and with the climate, but it has to start by listening to workers instead of firing us.”
Anyhow, when it comes to wages, Amazon increased its minimum hourly wage to $17 from $15 in late March and mentioned that US workers would receive double pay for overtime. Amazon also said in its latest quarterly results (pdf) that its investment in increased pay will be almost $700 million through May 16. Anyhow, even with those raises, Amazon warehouse workers working a regular 40-hour week would earn barely half of the US median household income.
As we can see that the COVID-19 pandemic has underlined that there are many of the global economy’s most necessary workers who are also its lowest-paid and most helpless, and that includes Amazon warehouse workers, who kept Amazon’s deliveries moving despite the lack of sufficient protective equipment and also having to work in crowded spaces where social distancing is not possible at all.