After months of organizing, hundreds of Amazon employees walked off their jobs September 20 demanding that the company do more for climate protection. According to Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, more than 1,800 employees in over 25 cities in 14 countries had pledged to take part in the action. Over 3,000 walked out in Seattle. One speaker told the crowd, “We are a community united across tech, across countries,” she said. “We are not Google. We are not Amazon or Microsoft, Facebook, Apple, Twitter. We are human beings and we need each other right now.”
Earlier this summer, more than 7,500 employees backed a climate change resolution that called on Amazon to adopt an aggressive climate plan. The resolution was voted down by shareholders, but the day before the September 20 strike Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos unveiled an ambitious climate plan aimed at reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2040. Organizers attribute Bezos’ action to pressure from its workers. Amazon Employees for Climate Justice said,
Amazon’s newly-announced ‘Climate Pledge’ is a huge win for Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, and we’re thrilled at what workers been able to achieve in less than a year. But we know it’s not enough. The Paris Agreement, by itself, won’t get us to a livable world. Today, we celebrate. Tomorrow, we’ll be in the streets to continue the fight for a livable future.
Cat Han, a 30-year-old software developer at Amazon and one of the main organizers of climate efforts at the company said, “This has been the culmination of a lot of work from a lot of employees so it’s just been so energizing and so inspiring being here.” From Amazon, she wants strong commitments to global climate leadership, including an end to the company’s cloud computing contracts with the fossil fuel industry. “We have to address a lot of the dealings that we have with oil and gas companies and the funding that goes into the lobbying groups that support climate denial,” she said.
Actions in a number of cities supported the Amazon strikers. USA Today reports:
In Chicago, ahead of the main march, several labor groups rallied outside Amazon’s downtown offices in support of Amazon workers who planned to walk off the job to demand Amazon take action against climate change. Dozens of protesters, led by Warehouse Workers For Justice and Sunrise Movement Chicago, held signs and chanted “Fossil fuels have got to go” and “Amazon’s a big polluter, do your part to save our future.” They also planned to join the city’s larger climate strike.
Several unions also supported the Amazon strike. The Teamsters’ union announced in a statement, “Teamsters across North America stand in solidarity with the Amazon workers who are walking out of work as part of the Youth Climate Strike Week of Action.”
When workers come together, we have real power and this is only the beginning. Throughout the history of our union, we have seen again and again that when workers have a voice in how their companies do business, they can make transformative changes to make workplaces and communities safer, healthier and more sustainable. The Amazon workers joining this strike are leading the fight to force one of the world’s richest and most powerful companies to leverage its resources to address climate change.
The statement added,
From warehouse pickers to delivery drivers, workers on the front lines of climate change are the ones who are forced to work under extreme weather conditions, like wildfires, polar vortexes and the type of extreme heat that sent workers in warehouses across the country to hospitals this summer. And as the ones who are so often the first and worst impacted by environmental changes, it is essential that working people have a voice in the conversation about how we address these challenges.
Thousands of tech workers from Amazon, Twitter, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Square were also planning to join the climate strike.
This post was previously published on labor4sustainability.org and is republished here with permission.
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