Hundreds of Amazon Workers Risk Their Jobs to Speak Out on Climate Change

Hundreds of Amazon employees are willing to risk their jobs to speak out on environmental issues.

A day after 364 workers contributed to a Medium post criticizing the e-commerce giant’s stance on climate change, the Amazon Employees for Climate Justice released a video about their campaign on social media, defying a corporate policy that requires they seek permission from the company before publicly addressing the issue.

“We are scared,” the group wrote in a caption. “But we decided we couldn’t live with ourselves if we let a policy silence us in the face of an issue of such moral gravity like the climate crisis.”

The group, which challenges Amazon to reach zero carbon emissions and limit its work with fossil fuel firms, among other goals, claimed that the company had disciplined employees after some of them had spoken to The Washington Post last year in opposition to Amazon’s continued work with oil and gas companies to extract fossil fuels.

“Amazon has a choice: It can support workers in taking leadership on the most important issue of our time or continue to retaliate against workers who are speaking up for customers, for their families and who believe that Amazon can lead the way to a carbon-free economy,” said a voiceover in the video.

Early this month, members of the AECJ went public after the company allegedly threatened to fire them over their stances on environmental issues. In a press release that was also shared on social media, the group claimed some of its members had been contacted by Amazon’s legal and HR representatives after publicly discussing the retailer’s role in climate change. It alleged that the workers received emails threatening termination if they continued to speak out about Amazon’s business.

In a statement sent today to FN, Amazon wrote, “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.”

On Sept. 19, Amazon announced its Climate Pledge — a commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by drastically reducing its emissions within the next two decades. AECJ members said that they had been calling on the company to tackle climate change for nearly a year. A day later, nearly 3,000 employees staged walkouts around the world as part of the planned youth-led Global Climate Strike.

This story has been updated with Amazon’s statement.

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