Amazon fired two outspoken critics of its climate policies amidst support for warehouse workers


One of the fired employees, Emily Cunningham, a user experience designer who is part of the Amazon Employees for Climate Justice group, had proposed on Twitter to match donations up to $ 500 Amazon warehouse workers. She said that a “lack of safe and hygienic working conditions” puts them and the public at risk. “

Cunningham said Monday evening that she was laid off Friday afternoon.

Maren Costa, a senior user experience designer who is also part of the employee climate group, said she was also fired on Friday. Costa retweeted criticism from Cunningham, as well as from groups supporting warehouse activists, about Amazon’s policies for protecting warehouse workers. Costa, too, offered via Twitter to balance donations of up to $ 500 for warehouse workers “while they consistent and sufficient protections and our employer’s procedures. ”

Amazon fired workers for “repeatedly violating internal policies,” spokesman Drew Herdener said in a statement.

“We support the right of every employee to criticize the working conditions of their employer, but that does not come with general immunity from all internal policies,” said Herdener.

Amazon’s external communications policy prohibits employees from publicly commenting on its operations without justification and approval from executives. Herdener previously stated that the policy did not allow employees to “publicly denigrate or misrepresent the business.”

(Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post.)

“Because of the efficiency with which we have succeeded in getting Amazon to take the lead in the climate crisis, they wanted me to leave for some time,” said Cunningham.

Costa believes she was also fired for her outspokenness.

“They were targeting the most visible leaders in an effort to silence everyone,” Costa said on Monday evening.

Amazon fired Costa on a video call while she was working at home, with her 13-year-old son in the next room. After the call, her son asked if she was fired for her climate activism, she said. When she told him she was, he asked her if she regretted it.

“I said, ‘No, I don’t. Not at all. I’m doing this for you, ”said Costa.

Amazon fired Chris Smalls, a warehouse worker on Staten Island, last month after voicing concerns over several working conditions, including The Post. New York attorney general Letitia James called the dismissal “shameful” and asked the National Labor Relations Board to investigate the incident, and five US senators, including former Democratic presidential candidates Cory Booker (NJ) and Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) sent a letter to Bezos. raising concerns about the dismissal of Smalls.

Amazon said the layoff was related to Smalls ignoring his manager’s request to stay home after contact with a worker who tested positive for coronavirus.

At the end of last year, Amazon warned Costa, who also spoke out against the company’s weather practices, that she was at risk of being fired for “talking about Amazon in a public forum”.

In January, more than 350 employees massively opposed the company’s communications policy to support Costa and others, calling on Amazon for its climate policy, its work with federal agencies, and its attempts to stifle dissent in an article on Medium.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) Tweeted his support for these workers at the time for “speak bravely“And” tell Jeff Bezos to end his hypocrisy. “

Warehouse workers in Europe and the United States have raised the alarm last month that the company is not taking enough steps to protect them from the virus. Workers have complained about policies that push them to stick to the hourly rate at which the company wants orders filled, a practice they say discourages safe sanitation practices such as washing hands after coughing or sneezing . Others complained of “standing” meetings, where workers stood side by side at the start of each shift.

Amazon has since taken steps to resolve these issues, including giving masks to warehouse workers and checking employees’ temperatures when they start working, sending workers home for three days if they sign up for 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, the company said.

Despite losing her job, Cunningham said she had no regrets.

“I know it’s going to be okay,” she said. “These times will force us to be our best, the most courageous. “


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