“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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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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