“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.

Smith Collection/Gado/Getty

The coronavirus is a rapidly developing news story, so some of the content in this article might be out of date. Check out our most recent coverage of the coronavirus crisis, and subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

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.”

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate