A fired Amazon employee activist called for the company’s tech workers to go on a one-day virtual walkout during a controversial online meeting with warehouse workers Thursday.
“Do you think this is right? Are you OK with the firings and the conditions in the warehouses,” Maren Costa, a leader of the Amazon Employees for Climate Justice group, said to an online audience of about 375 people who had just heard from hourly Amazon workers in Chicago, New York and Poland. “Or would you be willing to join us in taking a sick day?”
Her call for an online walkout — what she termed “a COVID-style walkout” on April 24 — was echoed in a news release from the climate group, which since late 2018 has conducted a public campaign urging Amazon to take substantive action to address climate change. Its leaders have also been vocal advocates for the company’s hourly workers, more so during the pandemic.
Costa and another AECJ leader, Emily Cunningham, were fired last Friday after accepting an invitation to the web meeting, which they ended up hosting Thursday. They said Amazon subsequently deleted the calendar invitation from its internal systems, but not before several hundred employees had seen and accepted it.
Costa had previously been warned she could lose her job for speaking publicly about Amazon without approval. Amazon said in a statement Friday that it supports 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.”
Costa and Cunningham said they were told they were fired for violating a policy against internal solicitation after circulating a petition in late March from warehouse workers seeking closures of facilities where employees have tested positive for COVID-19, hazard pay and other benefits.
A broad range of online actions, including an online climate strike, are planned for April 24.
An Amazon spokesperson declined to comment on the call for a walkout.
Editor’s note: This story was updated to remove an incorrect reference to the date of Earth Day. It is April 22.