Hundreds of Amazon employees have signed a pledge to strike later this month, standing against the company’s failure to take action to fight climate change.
In the last two years, workers of tech companies have increasingly stepped up to show their anger over their employers’ actions and inactions. Google employees have protested the company’s work on a censored search engine for China, its mishandling of sexual harassment and assault cases, and its participation in a Pentagon AI drone program. Wayfair employees have walked out over the company working with government contractors managing border camps, and Microsoft employees pressed their management to end a contract with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In July Amazon workers in the US state of Minnesota staged a walkout on Prime Day to protest the company’s wage practices and poor working conditions.
But now, for the first time in Amazon’s quarter-century of existence, employees at Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle are planning a strike. Wired first reported that more than 900 employees signed an internal petition to strike starting at 11:30 am local time on 20 September. The protest is associated with a global climate strike organised and directed by teen activist Greta Thunberg, which takes place 20 through 27 September.
The group organising the Amazon strike, Amazon Employees For Climate Justice, published a Medium post on Monday morning that confirmed at least 941 employees have signed the pledge and shared the group’s three demands. It asks that Amazon cease partnerships with oil and gas companies, stop giving money to politicians and lobbyists who are climate change deniers, and chart a course to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2030.
Wired reports that the demands were partially informed by a Gizmodo report published in April that found Amazon Web Services made a concentrated effort to court the fossil fuel industry, scoring partnerships and deals with the likes of Halliburton, BP, and Shell.
Amazon Employees For Climate Justice also released a video that includes several workers explaining why they are walking out.
“Because global climate change affects everybody but it is going to affect the most vulnerable first of society first,” one employee says. Another states their reasoning more succinctly: “Because the planet is fucked.”
Amazon did not immediately respond to a Gizmodo request for comment. “Playing a significant role in helping to reduce the sources of human-induced climate change is an important commitment for Amazon,” an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement sent to CNET. “We have dedicated sustainability teams who have been working for years on initiatives to reduce our environmental impact.”
Last year several Amazon workers and former employees filed a shareholder resolution attempting to force the company to create a report on how it will achieve a zero carbon footprint by 2030. Growing support for the resolution led Amazon to create a Shipping Zero initiative that would lay the plans to make 50 per cent of shipping net zero carbon by 2030. That wasn’t enough for 8,215 employees who signed a public letter imploring Amazon’s board of directors and CEO Jeff Bezos to adopt the resolution.
The resolution didn’t pass. But come 20 September, Amazon will face new pressure to take action to address the climate crisis.
Featured image: David Ryder (Getty)