A former engineer and vice-president at Amazon is speaking out about the reasons he stepped down from a million-dollar salary position in the middle of a pandemic. Among them, he was “in dismay” over the recent firings of Amazon workers who protested against the climate at several warehouse facilities across the country.
Tim Bray, who left his position as vice-president of Amazon Web services, last week, wrote about the details of his resignation in a blog post titled “Bye, Amazon.” In it, he mentions that the treatment of one whistleblower, in particular, was a cause for concern. That worker happened to be Christian Smalls, a former employee who worked at Amazon’s Staten Island facility and staged a protest to demand better safety conditions. Smalls maintained that Amazon workers weren’t being properly notified of the threat to their health or protected from the virus. They were also growing increasingly concerned about the possible risks that the job posed. After Smalls staged the walkout, he was fired.
Leaked meeting notes obtained by VICE showed that executives at the company intended to smear Smalls as “not smart or articulate.” And Bray shares that Smalls wasn’t alone. Several of the former Amazon whistleblowers, he says, were “a person of color, a woman or both.” In addition to Smalls, they include Courtney Bowden, Gerald Bryson, and Bashir Mohammed.
Bray believes the firing of the whistleblowers is “evidence of a vein of toxicity running through the company culture,” and added that white-collar workers are treated far better than those employed in the company’s warehouses. “Amazon treats the humans in the warehouses as fungible units of pick-and-pack potential,” Bray said.
The former VP who had been with the company for five years concluded his sentiments by saying, “At the end of the day, it’s all about power balances. The warehouse workers are weak and getting weaker…. They’re gonna get treated like crap, because capitalism. Any plausible solution has to start with increasing their collective strength.”