Some Amazon employees were recently let go for staging a “virtual walkout” in response to the Amazon’s coronavirus work conditions.
Amazon Employee for Climate Justice (AECJ) staged the walkout. This was all headed by two former employees named Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa. Both employees found themselves jobless on April 10 after publicly coming out against the company over work conditions and pandemic concerns.
This is not uncommon to see Amazon let staff go who attempt to unionize or publicly call out the company. Amazon works very hard to keep a positive image within every community they are apart of. Some employees may see this as unfair since they are practically tied to a gag order. If they speak out against the company in any way they are immediately unemployed.
Cunningham and Costa called for all employees to call out sick on April 24. The post listed many demands from AECJ, including reinstating Cunningham and Costa, public disclosure of the company’s current protocol for tracking COVID-19 cases. The AECJ also wants more commitment to climate justice among many other important requests.
“We invite you to take a sick day and join us on Friday, April 24 for a day-long live stream,” the group wrote in a Google doc.
Amazon maintains their position that the two were fired for violating “internal policy,” Cunningham and Costa feel they were fired for public protest efforts.
The Washington Post reported this past January that Amazon sent letters to Cunningham and Costa for violating “eternal communications.” The company also states that future infractions could “result in formal corrective action, up to and including termination of your employment with Amazon.”
Amazon’s current external communications policy blocks employees from commenting publicly.
Amazon told the Post it supported every employee’s “right to criticize their employer’s working conditions, but that does not come with blanket immunity against any and all internal policies. We terminated these employees for repeatedly violating internal policies.”
In January, AECJ posted several hundreds of testimonies from employees. The employees were concerned with the company’s lack of commitment to fighting climate change.
As the pandemic worsens the group switched its focus to demand worker protections in all Amazon fulfillment centers, but they continue to ask for a commitment from Amazon to fight climate change.