Amazon workers to walk off the job over return-to-office mandate


Seattle-based Amazon workers have plans to walk off the job on May 31 in an act of retaliation over layoffs and return-to-office mandates.

At least 1,000 employees at Amazon’s Seattle headquarters will participate in the walkout, which was announced over Slack and email messages that were reviewed by the Washington Post.

“We’re really walking out to show leadership is taking us in the wrong direction and employees need a say in the decisions that affect our lives,” one of Amazon’s Seattle-based software engineers anonymously told the Seattle Times.

“It’s a one-day walkout to show power,” the worker said.

Employees disgruntled over Amazon’s return-to-office mandate, which took effect May 1, as well as members of Amazon Employees for Climate Justice are partaking in the walkout, the Times reported.

According to the Slack message, the walkout from the Spheres at Amazon’s South Lake Union campus is contingent on 1,000 employees participating and will take place during lunch, when many employees are typically outside that area.

Employees based at Amazon campuses elsewhere in the US are also taking part, with reported plans to log off for the day after their lunch break.

At least 1,000 Seattle-based Amazon workers will walk off the job as of lunchtime May 31 in an act of protest over layoffs and return-to-office mandates.
Getty Images

Amazon Employees for Climate Justice cited “failures on the carbon front” and “greenwashing” as reasons for its members to walk off the job on May 31, according to the Times.

Greenwashing is a form of advertising where companies make broad sustainability claims about products to get consumers to buy them without sufficient evidence.

It’s unclear what specific products Amazon Employees for Climate Justice believes were “greenwashed.”

An Amazon spokesperson told The Post in response to the walkout: “We respect our employees’ rights to express their opinions.”

“As it pertains to the specific topics this group of employees is raising, we’ve explained our thinking in different forums over the past few months and will continue to do so,” said Amazon spokesperson Rob Munoz.

This is far from the first time Amazon workers argued against the retail giant’s return-to-office plan since it went into effect nearly one month ago.

Amazon CEO Andy Jassy announced the plan to made a hybrid work schedule mandatory back in February.

In it, he ordered corporate employees to report to the office at least three days per week. Previously, team leaders could make the call on how often their teams worked remotely.

Amazon recently laid off 9,000 workers — just weeks after axing 18,000 jobs. More than 100,000 Whole Foods workers were also let go.
AFP via Getty Images

The change was immediately met with backlash from employees, who argued they are more productive and enjoy a better work-life balance in a remote work environment.

In March, about 30,000 employees went so far as to sign a petition calling on Jassy to retract the hybrid work schedule.

The petitioners argued for “remote advocacy,” and said that spending mandatory days working from the office went against Amazon’s stances on affordable housing, diversity and climate change.

Jassy pushed back, saying a return to the office would build effective collaboration.

Beth Galetti, Amazon’s HR chief, then said the return-to-office plan would move forward as scheduled.

“Given the large size of our workforce and our wide range of businesses and customers, we recognize this transition may take time, but we are confident it will result in long-term benefits to increasing our ability to deliver for our customers, bolstering our culture, and growing and developing employees,” Galetti said in a companywide memo.

Amazon did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment.

“It’s a one-day walkout to show power,” one worker said.
The Washington Post via Getty Images

The walkout comes on the heels of a year’s worth of cost-cutting efforts at Amazon, including laying off 105,000 Whole Foods employees in late April and axing another 9,000 workers the month prior — totaling 27,000 job cuts since November.

March layoffs spanned the company’s Amazon Web Services, people experience and technology (PXT), its advertising, and Twitch live video streaming departments.

Amazon also halted the construction of its second Virginia headquarters at PenPlace despite already hiring 8,000 employees to report to the office.

The new hires will instead report to the Met Park campus, the first phase of the development, which is set to open in June.

John Schoettler, Amazon’s real estate chief, assured in a statement that “Met Park will have space to accommodate more than 14,000 employees.”

Amazon reported no growth in its online retail business in Q1, though revenue for the January-March quarter was $127.4 billion — a 9% increase from the $116.4 billion earned during the same period last year.

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2023-05-23 17:01:00