Amazon Employees Will Walk Out Over Climate Change Inaction

Over the past year, tech workers across the country have walked out to protest a wide range of issues. Google employees objected to the handling of sexual harassment claims. Riot Games workers demonstrated against forced arbitration. And WayFair staff left their desks after learning that the retailer profited from migrant detention centers run by US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. Now it's Amazon's turn.Over 900 Amazon employees have signed an internal petition pledging to walk out over their employer’s lack of action on climate change . The demonstration, scheduled to start at 11:30 am Pacific time on September 20, will mark the first time in Amazon’s 25-year history that workers at its Seattle headquarters have walked off the job, though many are taking paid vacation to do so. Most of the workers who have signed on so far work in Seattle, but employees in other offices, including in Europe, have indicated an interest in the event as well. The protest is part of a global general strike led by 16-year-old climate change activist Greta Thunberg taking place ahead of the United Nations Climate Action Summit on September 23.
WIRED spoke with three Amazon employees who signed the petition and plan to join the walkout. “It’s incredibly important that we show up and support the youth who are organizing this kind of thing, because I think it’s really important to show them, hey, you have allies in tech,” says Weston Fribley, a software engineer who has worked at Amazon for over four years."I have a chance here to influence Amazon to become a climate leader, and I think that’s the biggest impact that I personally can bring to the fight," says Maren Costa, a principal UX designer who has worked at Amazon for over 15 years.

Three Demands

In the petition, Amazon Employees for Climate Justice—the group of workers organizing the walkout—outlined three specific demands for the company and its CEO, Jeff Bezos. They want Amazon to stop donating to politicians and lobbying groups that deny the reality of climate change, to stop working with oil and gas companies to optimize fossil fuel extraction, and to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2030.

They also created a video featuring workers who plan to join the walkout.

The workers aren’t merely calling on Amazon to offset the impact of the greenhouse gases it emits into the environment; they want it to stop using fossil fuels entirely. Converting fully to renewable energy is an ambitious goal, especially for a logistics company that relies on gas-guzzling cargo planes and trucks to deliver goods to consumers’ doors in two days or less. But the employees joining the walkout say Amazon is the most ambitious company on the planet, and leading scientists have made it clear for years that drastic action is necessary to halt the climate crisis .