Amazon Employees Walkout Over Company’s Climate Impact, Return-To-Office Policy

By  //  June 13, 2023

Amazon employees at its Seattle headquarters staged a walkout on a Wednesday afternoon. They were protesting against a flexible remote work policy. They demanded a renewal of the company’s commitments to achieve zero carbon emissions.

Corporate Workout

On a Wednesday afternoon, hundreds of Amazon employees staged a walkout at the company’s Seattle headquarters. Their protest aimed to address the flexible remote work policy and urge a renewed commitment to achieving zero carbon emissions.

The walkout was organized by Amazon Employees for Climate Justice in collaboration with a group opposing Amazon’s mandated return-to-office (RTO) policy. Engadget reported that approximately 1,000 employees participated in Seattle, with over 2,000 employees globally pledging to join.

Despite Amazon’s corporate workforce totaling more than 350,000 employees, only 300 workers took part in the walkout event, despite 65,000 employees being based near Seattle.

The protest occurred a week after Amazon’s annual shareholder meeting and a month after the implementation of the RTO policy, which gave team leaders the authority to determine how employees worked.

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Protesting Over RTO Policy, Climate Impacts

During the event, speakers voiced frustrations with the company’s policy on returning to the office. Employees argued that remote work during the pandemic allowed more time with their families and eliminated daily commutes. This was reported by Associated Press News.

Quality Assurance Engineer Church Hundley, one of the speakers, stated that working from home had improved his quality of life. He refused to passively accept mandates that didn’t make sense, harmed the planet, families, and individual lives, and were solely aimed at fulfilling office seat requirements for tax incentives.

Furthermore, remote work allowed more families to transition to one-car households, aligning with the company’s climate goals. This highlighted some of the group’s criticisms towards Amazon for failing to meet its own targets in achieving zero emissions by 2040 in its climate commitment.

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Amazon Stands by Climate Commitments Amid Employee Protests

Amazon, in response to employee protests, expressed its support for the concerns raised. Bard Glasser, a spokesperson for the company, affirmed Amazon’s dedication to its sustainability objectives. He emphasized their progress toward achieving 100 percent renewable energy by 2025. Glasser stated, “We are on track to achieve 100 percent renewable energy by 2025. We will continue to invest, innovate, and collaborate both internally and externally to reach our objective.”

This is not the first time such action has taken place within Amazon. In 2019, Amazon Employees for Climate Justice initiated a similar movement, urging the disclosure of the company’s carbon emissions data. Subsequently, Amazon made significant commitments to renewable energy and net carbon emissions as part of the Climate Pledge.

Despite these commitments, some employees have raised concerns about Amazon’s adherence to its sustainability goals. The Washington Post reported that the company removed previously stated language from its website, which had pledged to achieve net-zero carbon emissions for half of its shipments by 2030.

The company’s response and actions during this time shed light on the ongoing dialogue between Amazon and its employees regarding the company’s environmental impact and sustainability efforts.