Sustainability

Employees Criticize Amazon on Climate Policies Despite Risk to Jobs

More than 340 Amazon employees signed onto a post criticizing the company’s climate stance and protesting its external communications policy.
Lauren MuskettJanuary 27, 2020
Employees Criticize Amazon on Climate Policies Despite Risk to Jobs

Hundreds of Amazon employees have signed a Medium post criticizing the company’s external communications policy and its stances on social issues, including climate change, labor rights, and privacy.

The post, which included statements from 357 Amazon employees, was published by the group Amazon Employees for Climate Justice.

Earlier this month, the group said several employees were contacted by Amazon’s legal and human resources representatives and told they would be fired if they continued to speak out against the company’s environmental policies.

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“Amazon participates in the global economy, where it has a substantial impact on many issues,” Michael Sokolov, a principal engineer at Amazon, said in the post. “Expecting its employees to maintain silence on these issues, and Amazon’s impact on them, is really a reprehensible overreach, and I am proud to take this opportunity to demonstrate my unwillingness to comply.”

Other employees criticized Amazon’s smart-doorbell company Ring, which it acquired in 2018, for its partnership with law enforcement agencies and questioned Amazon’s work with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“The deployment of connected home security cameras that allow footage to be queried centrally are simply not compatible with a free society,” software development engineer Max Eliaser said in the post. “The privacy issues are not fixable with regulation and there is no balance that can be struck. Ring should be shut down immediately and not brought back.”

Last spring, at the company’s annual shareholder meeting, employees submitted a proposal to chief executive officer Jeff Bezos calling for the company to develop a plan to address climate change. In September, Bezos said Amazon planned to transition entirely to renewable energy by 2030.

“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,” an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement to CNBC.

JASON REDMOND/AFP via Getty Images

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