Former Amazon VP Says He Resigned After Company Fired Whistleblower Employees
In a scathing blog post, Tim Bray writes that Amazon was “chickenshit” for firing warehouse employees raising concerns over safety during COVID-19 outbreak.
A former Amazon vice president detailed his reasoning for leaving the company in a scathing blog post.
Tim Bray was a VP and engineer at Amazon Web Services for more than five years, according to a blog on his website. He resigned on May 1, citing his dismay with the tech giant for “firing whistleblowers who were making noise about warehouse employees frightened of Covid-19.”
“The justifications [for firing them] were laughable; it was clear to any reasonable observer that they were turfed for whistleblowing,” he wrote. “Remaining an Amazon VP would have meant, in effect, signing off on actions I despised. So I resigned.”
In his lengthy post, Bray wrote that warehouse workers were “raising alarms about being uninformed, unprotected, and frightened.” He mentioned the firing of Christian Smalls, a warehouse employee who led a walkout at a Staten Island warehouse. (At least three other workers, including Seattle-based tech employees, were fired after raising similar safety concerns.)
In notes from a meeting obtained by Vice— that Amazon executives including Jeff Bezo attended—general counsel Jeff Zapolsky said they could present Smalls as “not smart or articulate” as part of a public relations plan. Zapolsky has since addressed the comments and said he let emotions “get the better of me.”
An Amazon spokesperson has told NowThis that Smalls was on a 14-day quarantine and was fired after he “received multiple warnings for violating social distancing guidelines.”
In his post, Bray also called Amazon “chickenshit” for firing workers and quoted a former Minnesota warehouse employee, Bashir Mohamed, who told CNN, “They fired me to make others scared.”
Bray also mentioned that he does believe Amazon is making an effort to improve safety conditions within the warehouses. He cited the company’s “intense work and huge investments.” But that’s not his issue, he adds.
“And at the end of the day, the big problem isn’t the specifics of Covid-19 response,” he writes. “It’s that Amazon treats the humans in the warehouses as fungible units of pick-and-pack potential.”
Amazon declined to comment on Bray's resignation.