Photo By: 
Amazon Employees for Climate Justice

Amazon Employees Put Jobs on the Line Over Climate Change

The company is threatening to fire workers for speaking out on their oil and gas ties

Kris LaGrange's picture
Jan 29, 2020

Workers at Amazon are putting their jobs on the line to speak out against the company's destruction of the planet. On Sunday, 250 employees who make up the Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, spoke out against the company’s climate practices.

The employees, who could be punished for violating Amazon’s communication policy, said that they were concerned about the company’s business dealings with oil and gas companies. While most people think of Amazon as an online retailer, they also have a lucrative business in web hosting services. This means that the company ends up doing a lot of different businesses, governments, and governmental agencies.

The action could put these employees at risk of punishment or termination by the company. 363 employees published quotes, with their names attached, on Medium expressing their concern about the company’s dealings. This was a violation of Amazon’s communication policy which bars workers from commenting publicly on its business without corporate justification and the approval of executives.

“While all employees are welcome to engage constructively with any of the many teams inside Amazon that work on sustainability and other topics, we do enforce our external communications policy and will not allow employees to publicly disparage or misrepresent the company or the hard work of their colleagues who are developing solutions to these hard problems,” Amazon spokesman Drew Herdener said in an interview with the Jeff Bezos owned Washington Post.

The group is calling on Amazon to end cloud-computing contracts that help companies accelerate oil and gas extraction, become carbon neutral by 2030, and stop funding politicians and lobbyists who deny climate change.

Following the protest, workers are waiting to see if they will face blowback from the company. While activism seems to be on the rise in the tech industry, companies have also begun clamping down. UCOMM Blog previously reported that Google fired some staffers who were leading an organizing drive at the tech giant. In October Amazon allegedly threatened to fire two employees who spoke out about the company’s environmental policies. The employees were told in letters from Amazon’s lawyers that further “infractions” could result in “formal corrective action” that could include being fired.

The employees told the Post that they hope that by standing united as one group and speaking out they can make the policy unenforceable since the company can’t fire hundreds of staffers all at once.

This isn’t the first time employees have spoken up about groups that Amazon works with. The company came under immense pressure when it was revealed that Amazon provided cloud services for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). At the time, a family separation policy was a lead story almost every day on the news. Others have pressured the company to move away from products like the Ring doorbell over privacy concerns.  

Sign up for our e-Newsletter!