SEATTLE (AP) — Calling on CEOs to “try harder,” hundreds of Amazon workers protested what they called the company’s lack of progress on climate goals and an unfair back-to-office mandate during a lunchtime demonstration at its Seattle headquarters on Wednesday.
The protest came a week after Amazon’s annual meeting of shareholders and a month after a policy of returning workers to the office three days a week went into effect.. Previously, team leaders were allowed to decide how their shipments would operate.
Employees exclaimed their frustration with the pace of the company’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint — “emissions up, time to work” — and urged Amazon to return authority to team leaders when it comes to the workplace.
Wearing a black pirate hat and red trench coat, Church Hindley, a quality assurance engineer, said working from home allowed him to live a better, healthier life.
“I’m here because I refuse to sit idly by while mandates are dictated from the top down that make no sense and hurt the planet and hurt families and people,” Hindley said. “And we just get a seat in the office for their tax incentives.”
in the current situationAmazon said it supports workers who speak out.
As of Wednesday morning, organizers estimated more than 1,900 employees had pledged to go out worldwide, with about 900 of them in Seattle. Many participated remotely, but hundreds gathered in Amazonian regions – A four-story building in downtown Seattle looks like three connected glass globes from the outside.
“Today looks like it could be the beginning of a new chapter in Amazon history, when tech workers emerging from the pandemic stood up and said, ‘We still want an opinion on this company and the direction of this company,’” said Elisa Ban, former Amazon employee and co-founder of Amazon Employees. For Climate Justice, a climate change advocacy group founded by Amazon workers.
And Amazon, which relies on fossil fuels to power the planes and trucks and vans that ship packages around the world, has a massive carbon footprint. Amazon workers have been vocal in criticizing some of the company’s practices.
In an annual statement to investors, Amazon said it aims to deploy 100,000 electric delivery vehicles by 2030 and reach net carbon emissions by 2040. But campaigners say the company must do more and commit to zero emissions by 2030.
“While we all want to get there tomorrow, for companies like ours that are very energy intensive, have very large transportation and packaging assets and physical building assets, it will take time to get it done,” Brad Glaser, an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement.
Since more employees have returned to the office, Glaser said, there has also been good energy at the company’s South Lake Union campus and in its other urban centers. However, more than 20,000 workers have signed a petition urging Amazon to reconsider its return-to-office mandate.
In a February note, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy said the company made the decision to return the company’s employees to the office at least three days a week after observing what worked during the pandemic. Among other things, he said, senior leadership monitored employee performance and talked with leaders at other companies. He said they’ve concluded that employees tend to be more personally involved and collaborate more easily.
In a memo asking Amazon employees to pledge their participation in the strike, organizers said the company “must restore the autonomy to its teams, who know their employees and customers best, to make the best decision about remote, in-person or hybrid work, and to its employees to choose a team that enables them to work the way they can.” They work out better.”
Pamela Hayter, a project manager at Amazon, started an internal Slack channel called “Remote Advocacy” after the company announced its back-to-office policy. Its 33,000 members share stories about how the back-to-office policy has affected their lives.
Hayter said during the protest in Seattle, drawing applause from the crowd.
The strike follows widespread cost-cutting at Amazon, with layoffs affecting those working in advertising, human resources, games, stores, hardware and Amazon Web Services, the company’s cloud computing division.
Like other tech companies, including Facebook parent Meta and Google parent Alphabet, Amazon has ramped up hiring during the pandemic to meet demand from stay-at-home Americans who have been increasingly shopping online to stay safe from the virus.
Amazon’s workforce, in warehouses and offices, has doubled to more than 1.6 million in about two years. But demand slowed as the worst of the pandemic receded. The company last year began pausing or canceling plans to expand warehouses or cutting 27,000 jobs since November.
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