A high-ranking engineer at Amazon has resigned in protest of the company’s treatment of warehouse workers.
Tim Bray, a VP and distinguished engineer at AWS, said in a public blog post titled “Bye, Amazon” that he could no longer stand to work at a “chickens–t” company that fires dissenters in an effort “designed to create a climate of fear.”
“I quit in dismay at Amazon firing whistleblowers who were making noise about warehouse employees frightened of Covid-19,” Bray wrote.
He said that listening to worker accounts of what life is like in Amazon’s warehouses during the coronavirus pandemic was difficult to stomach, and that he “snapped” when they fired the activists.
After escalating his concerns through internal channels, citing his belief that “VPs shouldn’t go publicly rogue,” Bray decided to leave.
“Remaining an Amazon VP would have meant, in effect, signing off on actions I despised,” he said. “So I resigned.”
Leaving now, Bray said, means abandoning nearly $1 million in salary and vesting shares.
The company’s warehouses in areas hit hardest by the coronavirus — including New York, Detroit and Chicago — have seen protests amid reports that dozens of warehouse workers have fallen ill.
The e-commerce giant has fired multiple employees in recent months for involvement in protests, including Staten Island warehouse worker Chris Smalls, who organized a small walkout.
Amazon said Smalls was canned because he didn’t quarantine himself after coming in contact with an employee who had the coronavirus.
Amazon has also defended its firing of other employees who have criticized the company, including experience designers Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa for “repeatedly violating internal policies.”
Amazon’s policy prevents employees from speaking about the company’s business without prior approval. The Seattle-based firm says the policy is similar to those at other large companies.
In an effort to quell tensions, CEO Jeff Bezos last month toured an Amazon warehouse and Whole Foods supermarket near Dallas, where he greeted employees and thanked them for their hard work. The company has also promised masks and gloves to its front-line workers and testing for all employees required to venture outside during the pandemic.
Amazon decline to comment. The company’s shares were up 1.4 percent Monday morning, at $2,318.19.
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