Apple workers have clashed with leadership over the company’s mandate to return to the office. As at Amazon, the Slack channel dedicated to advocating remote work has been a crucible that has also heightened other frustrations, such as the company’s response to anti-abortion laws in some states where Apple has offices. Apple delayed its return to the position several times amid uproar before finally cementing the base late last year.
Today’s strike at Amazon may be the biggest demonstration of tech workers since the industry began cutting jobs last fall after realizing that the pandemic boom in all things online was fading. Tech companies have laid off 200,000 workers this year alone, according to layoffs reports, in addition to tens of thousands of layoffs late last year.
Companies seem to discuss layoffs publicly with the goal of disciplining workers and reviving stagnant stock prices, says Toby Higbee, a labor historian at the University of California. “It all sounds so ironic.” Unsurprisingly, he says, morale in tech has plummeted, as workers see job cuts “as a business strategy rather than something that needs to happen for the benefit of the product.”
In many companies, discontent festered. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg promised to change the company’s compensation structure after employees criticized a decision to offer big payouts to executives while cutting 21,000 jobs. Twitter employees have taken to the platform to call out owner Elon Musk’s slash-and-burn tactic of cashing in on jobs and the site’s functionality. Some of them filed lawsuits over dismissal and conditions within the headquarters.
In February, unionized Alphabet workers organized “Google employees against greedgathered outside the company’s New York store to protest the company’s decision to lay off 12,000 employees while it spends tens of billions of dollars buying back stock. “Technology workers are now waking up to the harsh reality that we can Get rid of them just like any other worker in any other industry.”
The action against Amazon today is also triggered over the company’s lagging progress on a promise called the Climate Pledge that would cut all emissions to net zero by 2040. More than 400 other companies have made the same commitment. Earlier in 2019, Amazon also introduced Shipment Zero, a promise to make half of all shipments to customers produce net zero carbon emissions by 2030.
Last week, Amazon canceled Shipment Zero, saying it had decided to include these goals in its climate pledge. However, the company’s sustainability reports show its emissions have risen by 40% since it made the pledge. Today’s strike organizers also say that a large portion of the air pollution generated by Amazon’s distribution network falls on communities with a high percentage of people of color.
“We continue to push hard to get to net zero carbon by 2040,” says Glaser, claiming that Amazon is on track to reach 100 percent renewable energy by 2025 and plans to reduce packaging waste and decarbonize its transportation network with electric vehicles and alternative fuels. . He says the company is building its facilities in designated warehouse areas and is seeking input from stakeholders in the community. “For companies like ours that are very energy intensive and have very large transportation, packaging and physical building assets, it will take time to get it done.”