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Hundreds of Amazon employees plan to join climate change strike

The strike is part of growing employee unrest at Amazon.

Ben Fox Rubin Former senior reporter
Ben Fox Rubin was a senior reporter for CNET News in Manhattan, reporting on Amazon, e-commerce and mobile payments. He previously worked as a reporter for The Wall Street Journal and got his start at newspapers in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Ben Fox Rubin
3 min read

Most of the walkout participants so far come from Amazon's Seattle headquarters.

James Martin/CNET

Almost a thousand Amazon employees plan to walk out of work later this month, as part of a global climate change demonstration.

Amazon Employees For Climate Justice, a group of Amazon workers trying to push their company to take greater actions on climate change, organized an internal petition for the Sept. 20 walkout, the group confirmed in a Medium post Monday. Both Wired and Vice earlier reported the planned demonstration. Most of the walkout participants so far are from Amazon's Seattle headquarters, with many taking planned vacation days to participate, Wired said.

"As employees at one of the largest and most powerful companies in the world, our role in facing the climate crisis is to ensure our company is leading on climate, not following," the employees wrote on Medium.

The walkout will be part of "Global Climate Strike," a student-led movement to be held Sept. 20 to 27 that was sparked by climate activist Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old from Sweden. The demonstrations are being held during the United Nations Climate Action Summit, on Sept. 23.

Also on Monday, the group Microsoft Workers 4 Good said on Twitter it will be joining the demonstrations Sept. 20.

"Playing a significant role in helping to reduce the sources of human-induced climate change is an important commitment for Amazon," an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement Monday. "We have dedicated sustainability teams who have been working for years on initiatives to reduce our environmental impact."

Asked whether Amazon supports the strike or would retaliate against employees who walk out, the spokesperson added: "Amazon employees receive an allotment of paid time off every year, and they can use this time as they wish."

While the walkout is tied to a broader climate strike, it serves as another example of Amazon employees speaking up for changes at their company. Other internal groups include Whole Worker, which includes Whole Foods employees, and We Won't Build It, which includes engineers fighting against Amazon's connections to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Overall, workers in the tech industry appear to be far more willing than before to speak out against problems they see at their typically secretive companies, with employees organizing on issues at Google and Microsoft, as well.

Amazon Employees For Climate Justice is demanding the company stop donating to politicians and lobbying groups who deny the existence of climate change, restrict its work with oil and gas companies and cut down its carbon emissions to zero by 2030.

The Amazon climate group has previously called for more action from Amazon during its annual shareholder meeting this year and offered support for a Prime Day warehouse strike in Minnesota.

Bobby Gordon, an Amazon finance manager in Seattle who joined the climate group a few months ago, said he wanted to take part in the walkout because he and his wife plan to start a family soon.

"I'm really worried about the planet that will be there for them," he said about his future children. "As a future parent, I want to do everything I can to ensure my children have a good life. And so I have to avert the climate crisis any way I can."

He added that Amazon has been receptive to his group's work so far and talked to it about the work it's already been doing.

Amazon already funds a network of wind and solar farms and earlier this year announced a new program called Shipment Zero, with a plan to make 50% of all Amazon shipments net zero carbon by 2030. The company has also worked with Hasbro and others to create product boxes that can by shipped, reducing the need for additional packaging.

Watch this: As Amazon pushes into AI smarts, worries about job losses grow

First published at 8:20 a.m. PT.
Updated at 2:34 p.m. PT: Adds comments from Amazon employee Bobby Gordon.