Over the past year, tech workers across the country have walked out to protest a wide range of issues. Google employees objected the way sexual harassment claims were handled. Riot Games workers demonstrated against forced arbitration. And WayFair staff left their desks after learning that the retailer profited from migrant detention centers run by US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. Now it’s Amazon.
More than a thousand Amazon employees plan to walk out of work later this month, as part of a global strike for climate change action. Amazon Employees For Climate Justice, a group of Amazon workers trying to push their company to take greater action on climate change, organized an internal petition for the Sept. 20 walkout, the group confirmed in a Medium post yesterday. Both Wired and Vice reported about the planned walkout. Most of the participants are so far from Amazon’s Seattle headquarters, with many taking planned vacation days to participate, according to Wired. “Other Amazon employees in our offices around the world are also walking out. Not just Seattle,” added Emily Cunningham, one of the Amazon employees participating in the walkout.
“This will be the first time that Amazon workers at corporate offices are walking out, and it’s the first walkout in the tech industry over the climate crisis” the official press release read.
Amazon employee walkout will be part of the Global Climate Strike
The Amazon employees walkout will be part of “Global Climate Strike,” a student-led movement to be held Sept. 20 to 27 sparked by climate activist Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old from Sweden. The demonstrations are being held during the United Nations Climate Action Summit, on Sept. 23.
Amazon Employees For Climate Justice are demanding the company to stop donating to politicians and lobbying groups who deny the existence of climate change, restrict its work with oil and gas companies and cut down its carbon emissions to zero by 2030.
We want Amazon to commit to zero emissions by 2030 and pilot electric vehicles first in communities most impacted by pollution. We should be leaders reaching zero first, not sliding in at the last moment.
— Amazon Employees For Climate Justice (@AMZNforClimate) September 9, 2019
Bobby Gordon, an Amazon finance manager in Seattle who joined the climate group a few months ago, said he wanted to take part in the walkout because he and his wife plan to start a family soon. “I’m really worried about the planet that will be there for them,” he said about his future children. “As a future parent, I want to do everything I can to ensure my children have a good life. And so I have to avert the climate crisis any way I can.” He added that Amazon has been receptive to his group’s work so far and talked to them about the work that it’s already been doing.
Amazon spokesperson said to Wired in an email statement that, “Amazon employees receive an allotment of paid time off every year, and they can use this time as they wish.”
“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. “We have dedicated sustainability teams who have been working for years on initiatives to reduce our environmental impact.” Amazon earlier this year announced a new program called Shipment Zero, with a plan to make 50% of all Amazon shipments net zero carbon by 2030.
Other tech companies joining the Global Climate Strike
The group ‘Microsoft Workers 4 Good’ on Monday said on Twitter that, “they will be joining millions of people around the world by participating in the youth-led Global Climate Strike on September 20th to demand an end to the age of fossil fuels.”
Microsoft workers will be joining millions of people around the world by participating in the youth-led Global Climate Strike on September 20th to demand an end to the age of fossil fuels. Microsoft workers, join us by pledging to take action at https://t.co/KL3e0xKyYR
— Microsoft Workers 4 Good (@MsWorkers4) September 9, 2019
Google workers announced on Sept.14 that they will be joining Amazon and Microsoft employees, tech workers, and students for the climatic strike on Sept. 20!
We're in! Google workers will be joining Amazon and Microsoft employees, tech workers, and students on Sept. 20!
Who's next?? Any Facebook and Apple employees out there?? https://t.co/IABsll4FDn
— Google Workers for Action on Climate (@GoogleWAC) September 14, 2019
Amazon employee calls for climate change in the past
While this walkout is tied to a broader climate strike, it serves as yet another example of Amazon employees speaking up for changes at their company. The Amazon climate group previously this year called for more action from Amazon during its annual shareholder meeting but the shareholders rejected all the 11 resolutions including climate change. Though the resolution ultimately didn’t pass, it helped to raise public awareness and build support among employees inside Amazon.The group also offered support to workers at the Prime Day warehouse strike in Minnesota demanding safe working conditions and fair wages.
Other internal groups in Amazon are the Whole Worker group, which includes the Whole Foods employees, pushing the company to improve their working conditions. And ‘We Won’t Build It’ employees, includes engineers fighting against Amazon’s connections with Palantir and US ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement).