Former Amazon Vice President Expresses Decision To Resign In Favor Of COVID-19 Whistleblowers

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Former Amazon vice president Tim Bray said he did not expect him to gain attention after he quit to support three laid-off workers, and at first he was hesitant to talk about it publicly. But now he wants the world to know, “It’s not just an Amazon problem. “

Bray announced his resignation from Amazon in a blog post on May 1, writing, “I am dismayed to leave Amazon firing whistleblowers who were making noise about warehouse workers scared of COVID-19. “

He said the company’s actions were “evidence of a vein of toxicity crossing the company’s culture.”

Amazon says the three workers were not fired for speaking, but for “violating internal policies”.

The New York Attorney General is currently investigating one of these cases.

Canada’s Tim Bray was a senior engineer at Amazon until May 1, when he resigned to protest against three dismissed Amazon employees. Amazon says the three workers were not fired for being whistleblowers, but for “violating internal policies”. (Submitted by Tim Bray)

Bray held progressively more senior positions in the technology industry for four decades and ended up in a coveted senior engineer position at Amazon. Leaving this job will likely cost him about a million dollars, he said.

“Firing whistleblowers was just out of my reach,” said Bray. The weekly with Wendy Mesley in an exclusive television interview.

But he quickly admits that Amazon is the best-managed company he has ever worked for.

“They always talk about customer obsession, and they really mean it,” he said. “We all love the speed and convenience of what Amazon offers. “

The problem, he says, is that there is nothing in place to prevent them from taking advantage of low-level employees to make a profit.

“Our whole economy is focused on growth and efficiency, and the stress and pressure on people at the bottom of the pyramid just doesn’t have enough weight in this equation,” he said.

A pandemic highlighting power imbalances

Bray believes that the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a “raw light” on power imbalances in Canada and the United States.

“The people who talk about the urgent need to restart the economy are not offering to go out to the warehouse themselves. They say, “You workers, go back to face COVID, and see how it works. “Said Bray.

In general, the available data tend to show a strong correlation between higher income levels and the ability to work from home during the pandemic.

In the second week of April, for example, one million people in low-wage, non-union and hourly paid jobs in Canada worked at least a few hours, and 89.1% of them worked outside the home, according to Statistics. Canada.

And although the Canadian government has not followed official figures, individual reports suggest that many essential workers have died from COVID-19 in Canada.

To date, four workers in meat packaging plants have died from COVID-19 in Alberta and Ontario, as well as 10 Toronto taxi drivers, an employee of an Ontario grocery store, an employee of ” a dairy facility and at least nine health care workers, including two hospital cleaners.

Amazon under fire from activists and politicians

Amazon sparked more controversy this week after announcing it would end its “hero pay” for essential workers in recognition of unsafe working conditions.

“We are grateful to the associates who support customers during times of increased demand and we are back to our regular wages and overtime hours at the end of the month,” an Amazon spokesperson said in an email.

Meanwhile, Amazon workers around the world continue to experience COVID-19 outbreaks in their warehouses, including here in Canada.

The company hasn’t released its internal data on coronaviruses, so some workers have taken steps to compile their own unofficial tally, listing more than 1,000 cases among American Amazon workers and 7 deaths. Seventeen Canadian cases are also listed.

Celebrities, activists and progressive politicians were quick to weigh in.

“I think anger or indignation is a perfectly reasonable reaction to this [inequality of income and power] Said Bray.

But he doesn’t think Amazon is the problem.

Whether it’s Amazon, Tesla or Google – Bray thinks that many companies are just too big to operate on a human level, and the only way to guarantee worker protection is to force companies to do it.

“If we want to solve these problems, we have to fix the laws,” he said.

A farewell to big technologies

Bray says that after 41 years in the industry, he’s not just moving away from Amazon, he’s moving away from the whole “big tech” business.

Tim Bray’s career as a software developer includes work for Amazon, Google, Sun Microsystems and Digital Equipment Corporation. (Submitted by Tim Bray)

“I was one of the people at the time who helped build the Internet. So I have to share the responsibility for what has become, “he said.

What is the next step for the former senior engineer?

“Well, no one is ever going to pay me to sing a song or write a poem. So i will find something to do [with technology], ” he said.

“But I suspect that I will never again be a full-time employee of a large technology company. “



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