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Top engineer quits Amazon in protest over firings of Covid-19 whistleblower employees

Top engineer quits Amazon in protest over firings of Covid-19 whistleblower employees
Vice-president and top engineer at Amazon Web Services Tim Bray has resigned in protest over the firings of workers, mainly from minorities, who complained over conditions at the company’s warehouses during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I quit in dismay at Amazon firing whistleblowers who were making noise about warehouse employees frightened of Covid-19,” Bray wrote in an open letter titled ‘Bye, Amazon’ which he posted on his personal blog. His last day at the company was May 1. 

Bray admitted working with Amazon was the “best job” he ever had, and said he will likely be losing “over a million (pre-tax) dollars” by leaving his position, but he took issue with the company’s firings of employees who complained about safety conditions and fears in warehouses, which continue to operate during the current pandemic.

“The justifications [from the company] were laughable; it was clear to any reasonable observer that they were turfed for whistleblowing,” Bray wrote of the axed employees, noting that the firings seem focused on minority workers.

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“I’m sure it’s a coincidence that every one of them is a person of color, a woman, or both. Right?” he wrote. 

He called the firings “chickens**t” and said they were done to “create a climate of fear.” Amazon has not yet publicly commented on Bray’s accusations. 

Two employees — user-experience designer Emily Cunningham and her colleague Maren Costa — were fired “on the spot,” according to Bray, after trying to set up a video call to discuss work conditions and concerns last month. Cunningham tweeted Bray on Monday and thanked him for his support.

Other employees were reportedly fired after signing a petition asking for more workplace protections. Demands in the petition included hazard pay and warehouse closures if any employee tested positive for coronavirus. 

Amazon has been quick to crack down on any employee organization at the warehouses, which have been working full steam during the pandemic to deliver both essential goods and consumer merchandise unavailable at physical stores shuttered by the lockdowns.

Also on rt.com Amazon executives conspired to smear fired worker who led protest over Covid-19 safety conditions

Leaked notes from an internal Amazon meeting in early April showed top executives at the company — including CEO Jeff Bezos — conspiring to smear a worker at a Staten Island warehouse who was fired for organizing a walkout over safety conditions. Chris Smalls, an African-American employee, was described as “not smart” or “articulate” in a bid to divert away from any controversy about Amazon itself. 

Amazon General Counsel David Zapolsky, who was behind the strategy, argued for “strongly laying out the case for why the organizer’s conduct was immoral, unacceptable, and arguably illegal, in detail, and only then follow with our usual talking points about worker safety.”

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