Group says Amazon wants workers to keep quiet on its climate change strategy
At least two Amazon.com employees who publicly criticized the company’s environmental policies have been warned they could be fired for future violations of its communications policy.
The workers are part of the employee group, Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, that has been pushing the company to more strongly address climate change.
In September, Amazon announced a “climate pledge” that included commitments to renewable energy and carbon neutrality. The pledge was a response to the employee group’s efforts and it arrived one day before 1,500 Amazon employees planned to join a walk-out inspired by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg.
The pledge fell short of the employee group’s goals, which included ending Amazon Web Services contracts with oil and gas companies. That led some employees to speak to the media.
News of the job threats that arrived in October were first reported last week by The Washington Post, which is privately owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
THREAD/ Jeff Bezos and Amazon executives are threatening to fire a few members of our group after we spoke up about wanting our company to be a leader in the worldwide effort to avert climate catastrophe.https://t.co/L87gpclEyL
— Amazon Employees For Climate Justice (@AMZNforClimate) January 2, 2020
The employee group asserts that Amazon’s policy on staff speaking to the press and on social media was only updated in early September, a day after the plan to join the climate walk-out was announced.
Employees now must use an internal system to request PR approval to discuss the company publicly and a “business justification” needs to be provided. Previously, only e-mail approval from a senior vice president was required.
Amazon said it began updating its policy in spring 2019 and it was designed to “make it easier” for employees to participate in media interviews. Amazon also believes its policies are similar to other large companies. “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,” the company said in a statement.
Maren Costa, one of the job-threatened employees, said in response to Amazon’s actions, “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. This is not the time to shoot the messengers.”
Employees at Google, Microsoft, Salesforce.com and Nike have also pressured management to make societal changes.
- Amazon threatens to fire critics who are outspoken on its environmental policies – The Washington Post
- Amazon threatened to fire climate activists, employee group says – Los Angeles Times
- Amazon workers claim their jobs were threatened for speaking out about climate change – ABC News
- Amazon employees who spoke out about climate change could be fired – The Verge
- Amazon threatened to fire employees for speaking out on climate, workers say – The Guardian
- Amazon Employees for Climate Justice Statement – Twitter
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Are Amazon’s updated public communication guidelines appropriate? What effect, if any, do you expect this to have on employee morale?