Amazon VP resigns after accusing company of 'firing whistleblowers'

Marco Green
May 6, 2020

"It's that Amazon treats the humans in the warehouses as fungible units of pick-and-pack potential", he continued.

Leaving now, Bray said, means abandoning almost $1 million in salary and vesting shares.

AWS, by contrast, treats employees humanely, strives to provide work-life balance, has tried to improve diversity in its ranks and "is by and large an ethical organization", he said.

In am email to Narcity, Amazon stated that they "don't have a comment to provide at this time".

"Stories surfaced of unrest in Amazon warehouses, workers raising alarms about being uninformed, unprotected, and frightened", Bray says in the post of conditions amid the coronavirus crisis.

The New York state attorney general said that Amazon may have violated federal safety standards for providing "inadequate" protections to warehouse workers. "He's not smart, or articulate, and to the extent the press wants to focus on us versus him, we will be in a much stronger PR position", Amazon's top lawyer David Zapolsky wrote about Smalls.

Amazon is an essential business that has stayed open during the COVID-19 pandemic. A LinkedIn search of Amazon employees who list their title as "distinguished engineer" returns eight results. And at the end of the day, the big problem isn't the specifics of Covid-19 response.

The outbreaks have renewed scrutiny of Amazon from elected officials.

A vice president at Amazon Web Services said Monday he resigned after five years on the job, accusing Amazon of "firing whistleblowers" concerned about worker safety amid the coronavirus pandemic. Amazon has more than 935,000 full- and part-time employees globally, most of whom are hourly employees in the company's enormous retail fulfillment and logistics business. Instead, they just fired the activists. His last day at Amazon was May 1.

Amazon has defended the dismissals, saying the workers broke internal company policies.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said the company will spend almost all of its operating profits this quarter on COVID-related expenses, including "getting products to customers and keeping employees safe" in his first-quarter earnings statement.

Those efforts were not enough to retain Bray, however.

Tim Bray, a vice-president and engineer at Amazon Web Services (AWS), published a blogpost on Friday 1 May announcing that he has chose to quit his job after more than five years working at the company.

"Amazon's messaging has been urgent that they are prioritizing this issue and putting massive efforts into warehouse safety". But he wrote that he ultimately resigned because remaining a VP of Amazon amounted to "signing off on actions I despised". "Firing whistleblowers isn't just a side-effect of macroeconomic forces, nor is it intrinsic to the function of free markets".

Bray called the justification for the firings "laughable" in his blog post, and said he raised his concerns quietly within Amazon. "I choose neither to serve nor drink that poison", wrote Bray, adding that he first escalated his frustrations "through the proper channels and by the book" because "VPs shouldn't go publicly rogue".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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