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'Bye, Amazon': Vancouver-based VP resigns over company's firing of 'whistleblowers' amid pandemic

Last Updated May 5, 2020 at 8:14 am PDT

The Amazon logo is seen on the new logistics center of online merchant Amazon in Lauwin-Planque, northern France on Sept. 19 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Michel Spingler
Summary

Vancouver-based Amazon VP resigns over handling of warehouse worker complaints amid pandemic

Tim Bray says Amazon is choosing to fire workers who voice safety concerns

Amazon has said it is prioritizing warehouse safety with significant investments

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A Vancouver-based vice president of online retail giant Amazon has resigned while calling out the company for firing employees who have spoken out about unsafe working conditions.

“I quit in dismay at Amazon firing whistleblowers who were making noise about warehouse employees frightened of COVID-19,” now-former Amazon Web Services VP Tim Bray writes in a blog post.

Among those fired was a New York warehouse worker who led a strike last month, pushing the company for more protections for workers against the new coronavirus. At the time, Amazon said the worker was fired for not obeying social-distancing rules.

Other workers have been let go after saying publicly that proper physical distancing is currently next to impossible in warehouse settings.

Bray says he brought up the firings internally at the company before speaking out.

“VPs shouldn’t go publicly rogue, so I escalated through the proper channels and by the book… that done, remaining an Amazon VP would have meant, in effect, signing off on actions I despised. So I resigned,” he writes.

Amazon declined to comment on the allegations when contacted by the Canadian Press.

Two organizers of Amazon Employees for Climate Justice have remained vocal about working conditions at the company, and led a video call on the topic last month.

“Amazon needs to stop firing and start listening,” says Maren Costa, who was herself let go by the company on April 10. “They can fire some of us, but they can’t silence all of us.”

Bray writes that his decision to resign — effective May 1st — likely cost him over $1 million, as well as the “best job I’ve ever had.”

He also credited the company for investing in COVID-19 safety measures.

“Amazon’s messaging has been urgent that they are prioritizing this issue and putting massive efforts into warehouse safety. I actually believe this: I have heard detailed descriptions from people I trust of the intense work and huge investments,” he says.

Amazon reported a significant revenue surge in the first quarter as COVID-19-related restrictions leave most shoppers stuck at home. It is also anticipating a multi-billion dollar profit in Q2.

-With files from The Canadian Press