A group of dissatisfied Amazon employees is organizing a walkout at the company’s Seattle headquarters in protest of recent layoffs, a return-to-office policy, and the company’s environmental impact.
Scheduled for Wednesday, this lunchtime demonstration follows Amazon’s annual shareholder meeting and the enforcement of a policy requiring employees to return to the office three days a week.
Amazon acknowledged the rights of its employees to express their opinions, emphasizing that it respects them.
Over 1,800 employees, including approximately 870 in Seattle, have pledged to participate in the walkout worldwide, according to Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, a climate change advocacy group established by Amazon workers.
While some demonstrators plan to gather at the visually striking Amazon Spheres, a structure consisting of three interconnected glass orbs in downtown Seattle, others will participate remotely.
Following the increase in employees returning to the office, Brad Glasser, an Amazon spokesperson, acknowledged the positive atmosphere at the South Lake Union campus and other urban sites.
Nevertheless, over 20,000 workers expressed their concerns by signing a petition urging Amazon to reconsider the mandatory return-to-office policy. In response, Glasser emphasized that the company has previously provided explanations for their decision and will continue to communicate its reasoning in the future.
In a memo released in February, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy justified the decision to require corporate employees to return to the office based on observations during the pandemic.
He mentioned that the company’s senior leadership assessed employee performance and communicated with leaders at other companies, ultimately concluding that in-person work fostered greater engagement and collaboration.
The organizers of the walkout circulated a note urging Amazon employees to join them, emphasizing the need for the company to grant autonomy to its teams.
They argue that these teams, who have the best understanding of their employees and customers, should be able to decide the most suitable approach to remote, in-person, or hybrid work. Additionally, employees should have the freedom to choose the team that allows them to perform optimally.
Among the grievances raised by employees is Amazon’s perceived slow response to address its contribution to climate change.
With its heavy reliance on fossil fuels to power transportation, Amazon has a substantial carbon footprint. Workers have criticized the company for these practices.
Mass Walkout at Amazon
Amazon made a commitment in its yearly investor statement to deploy 100,000 electric delivery vehicles by 2030 and strive for net-zero carbon emissions by 2040.
However, the organizers of the walkout contend that greater and more significant measures are required. They are calling for a firm commitment from Amazon to achieve zero emissions by 2030.
The walkout comes after widespread cost-cutting measures at Amazon, resulting in layoffs across various departments, including advertising, human resources, gaming, stores, devices, and Amazon Web Services (AWS), the company’s cloud computing division. Since November, approximately 27,000 jobs have been eliminated.
Like other tech giants such as Meta (parent company of Facebook) and Alphabet (parent company of Google), Amazon experienced a surge in hiring during the pandemic to meet the rising demand for online shopping.
The workforce, spanning warehouses and offices, doubled to over 1.6 million people in just two years. However, as the pandemic situation improved, the demand slowed down, prompting Amazon to pause or cancel its warehouse expansion plans.
With concerns about a potential recession looming, Amazon recently closed down a subsidiary that had been selling fabrics for nearly three decades, shut down its hybrid virtual in-home care service called Amazon Care, and terminated its philanthropic program known as Amazon Smile.
In summary, discontented Amazon workers are staging a walkout at the company’s Seattle headquarters to protest layoffs, a return-to-office policy, and the company’s environmental impact.
This demonstration follows a shareholder meeting and a mandatory return-to-office policy. Employees demand more autonomy and the ability to choose their working arrangements. They also criticize Amazon’s response to climate change and urge the company to commit to zero emissions by 2030.