Amazon Threatens Termination for Employee Motivated Climate Group

Published on: 06 Jan, 2020

Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) employees have been threatened with termination by Amazon’s legal and HR representatives; Any actions made against the company’s environmental policies could lead to these employees being fired.

Workers have formed Amazon Employees for Climate Change (AECJ), to challenge Amazon’s environmental policies. Amazon targeted the said group of employees a month after the Company announced its Climate Pledge to its company-wide carbon emission goals.

“‘Now is a time when we need to have Communications policies that let us speak honestly about our company’s role in the climate crisis.’ said Maren Costa, a User Experience Principal Designer at Amazon who was threatened with termination of employment for speaking to the Washington Post. ‘This is not the time to shoot the messengers. This is not the time to silence those who are speaking out’.

Amazon has changed its policy regarding workers speaking to the press and on their social media accounts in early September. This policy change was one day after the AECJ was looking to organize a climate walkout. Employees must seek approval to speak about Amazon in any public way. In other words, Amazon has the right to silence their employees as they see fit.

This policy contradicts Amazon’s core principles which encourage employees to have their independence and challenge decisions.

Amazon has stated  "We recently updated the policy and related approval process to make it easier for employees to participate in external activities such as speeches, media interviews, and use of the company's logo..As with any company policy, employees may receive a notification from our HR team if we learn of an instance where a policy is not being followed."

“‘Amazon’s newly updated communications policy is having a chilling effect on workers who have the backbone to speak out and challenge Amazon to do better.’ said Victoria Lian, a Software Engineer at Amazon. ‘This policy is aimed at silencing discussion around publicly available information. It has nothing to do with protecting confidential data, which is covered by a completely different set of policies’”.

Amazon’s employees openly challenge Amazon’s lack of transparency on their environmental policies. In December 2018, employees co-filed a shareholder resolution urging the company to report its plans to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels.

The AECJ continues to push the company to take more action in regards to climate change. AECJ is making an attempt to have Amazon commit to zero emissions by 2030 instead of the zero by 20040 as amazon announced in September 2019. This announcement was made after thousands of employees planned to do a walkout over the Company’s lack of climate leadership.

“‘The climate crisis is already affecting all of us.’ said Bobby Gordon Finance manager at Amazon. ‘We cannot confront this monumental problem, let alone avert catastrophic damage to our planet and society, if we are not allowed to speak up about it’”

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