Corporate Amazon workers protest company’s climate impact and return-to-office mandate in walkout

Hundreds of Amazon corporate workers in Seattle decried the lack of progress on the company’s climate goals during a lunchtime demonstration at Wednesday headquarters, calling it an inequitable return-to-office mandate and urging executives to strive harder.

The leaders of the team previously determined how charges for work were allowed. After the annual shareholder meeting, a protest came a week later, and the policy took effect, allowing workers to return to the office for three days per week.

“With emissions on the rise, it’s high time to take action” — the workers vocalized their frustration regarding the sluggishness of the company’s initiatives to decrease its carbon footprint — and implored Amazon to reinstate decision-making power to team leaders concerning work location.

Church Hindley, a quality assurance engineer, donning a black pirate hat and red coat, expressed that working remotely enabled him to lead a superior and more wholesome existence.

Hindley expressed, “The tax incentives they offer are only to entice us to occupy a position in the office. However, these incentives negatively impact individual lives, harm families, and have detrimental effects on the planet. Such policies lack logical reasoning and are imposed from higher authorities, while mandates remain inactive and simply refuse to take action. I am here protesting against this.”

In a declaration, Amazon stated that it endorsed employees voicing their viewpoints.

Many employees, estimated to be more than 1,900, gathered at the four-story structure in downtown Seattle called Spheres Amazon. They pledged to walk around the world as organizers estimated and remotely participated, connecting with hundreds of glass orbs that resembled three interconnected looks outside from the structure.

Eliza Pan, a previous employee of Amazon and one of the founders of Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, a group advocating for climate change that was established by Amazon workers, expressed, “We still desire to have a voice in the decision-making process of this company and the path it takes,” in response to the tech workers who emerged from the pandemic and declared, “Today seems to signal the beginning of a fresh era in Amazon’s history.”

Some Amazon workers have been vocal in criticizing the company’s practices. Amazon has an enormous carbon footprint. Amazon relies on fossil fuels to power the vans, trucks, and planes that ship packages.

According to activists, the company needs to take further action and make a commitment to eliminate emissions by 2030. In its annual statement to investors, Amazon stated that it intends to utilize 100,000 electric delivery vehicles by 2030 and achieve a net-zero carbon footprint by 2040.

Brad Glasser, a representative from Amazon, stated that it will require a considerable amount of time for companies such as ours, which have a high power consumption and possess extensive transportation, packaging, and physical building resources, even though we all desire to reach that point as soon as possible.

Amazon reevaluated the requirement to return to the office due to a petition signed by over 20,000 workers. Glasser noted a positive atmosphere at the company’s South Lake Union campus and other urban locations after more employees resumed working in the office.

He said that employees tended to be more engaged. He concluded that employees tended to be more engaged when they easily collaborate and engage with others. He said that he talked to leaders at other companies and observed how the senior leadership performed and watched the staff. In a memo in February, Andy Jassy, the CEO of Amazon, said that the company made the decision for corporate employees to return to the office at least three days a week among other things.

In a note asking Amazon employees to pledge their participation in the walkout, organizers said the company must return autonomy to its teams, who know best how to make the best decision for their customers and employees, whether it is to work in a hybrid or remote in-person setting.

Pamela Hayter, a project manager at Amazon, started an internal Slack channel called “Remote Advocacy” after the company announced its policy about returning to the office, to share stories about how the policy has affected the lives of its 33,000 members.

Cannot believe” that in this day and age, a company claims to be an innovative leader in its field, while also stating that it would do such a thing to one of its most valuable resources – its employees.

Following a widespread walkout at Amazon, the division responsible for computing cloud services, web stores, gaming, human resources, and advertising has implemented cost-cutting measures that have resulted in layoffs impacting workers.

During the pandemic, companies like Amazon, Alphabet (parent company of Google), and Meta (parent company of Facebook) ramped up hiring to meet the increasing demand from homebound Americans who were keeping themselves safe by shopping online.

Since November, the corporation has eliminated 27,000 positions and initiated the suspension or termination of warehouse expansion plans in the previous year. Demand decelerated as the most severe phase of the pandemic alleviated, but Amazon’s workforce, in distribution centers and administrative buildings, multiplied to over 1.6 million in approximately two years.