Amazon employees escalate climate challenge to management

Matt Day

More than 350 Inc. employees contributed public statements focused on the company’s climate practices, defying company policy and escalating a feud between management and a coalition of concerned workers.

The employees’ comments, posted to Medium on Sunday, come a few weeks after it emerged that Amazon had threatened workers who had talked to the Washington Post with disciplinary action or termination if they continued to speak publicly about the company without authorization. The employees are members of Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, an organization that has been campaigning for more than a year to get Amazon to cut ties with fossil fuel companies and commit to limiting its contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.

Among the newly published contributions, each of them from named Amazon workers, the shared sentiment is summed up by the comment of Amanda Seyfer, a software development engineer: “Amazon has the scale to be a bold leader in the move toward clean energy, or a significant contributor to climate change. We know we’ll have to deal with this eventually, so why wait?”

Amazon Threatens to Fire Climate Activists, Group Says

Amazon Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos in September announced an initiative aimed at making his company a net-zero carbon emitter by 2040 and to court other companies to join a pledge to do the same. The next day, thousands of Amazon employees walked off the job in a show of support for student-led climate marches around the world. Some Amazon employees there took credit for their executives’ new public commitment to the environment and asked for more.

An Amazon spokesperson, in an emailed statement, said “of course we are passionate about these issues.”

“While all employees are welcome to engage constructively with any of the many teams inside Amazon that work on sustainability and other topics, we do enforce our external communications policy and will not allow employees to publicly disparage or misrepresent the company or the hard work of their colleagues who are developing solutions to these hard problems,” the statement said.