Top Amazon Web Services engineer resigns after worker firings
An Amazon distribution center in Las Vegas. Photo: David Becker/AFP via Getty Images
Tim Bray, vice president and distinguished engineer at Amazon Web Services, announced Monday in a blog post that he resigned after the company fired workers who raised concerns about warehouse employees frightened of the coronavirus.
Why it matters: Bray said he strongly disagreed with the firings of a number of employees, including Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa, who link their terminations to their public criticism of Amazon’s treatment of employees during the coronavirus pandemic, according to TechCrunch.
Context: Amazon denied the connection, saying it terminated the employees for violating internal policies.
- Bray worked for Amazon for five years and called the position “the best job I’ve ever had."
What he's saying: "[A]t the end of the day, the big problem isn’t the specifics of Covid-19 response," Bray wrote. "It’s that Amazon treats the humans in the warehouses as fungible units of pick-and-pack potential. Only that’s not just Amazon, it’s how 21st-century capitalism is done."
- "Amazon is exceptionally well-managed and has demonstrated great skill at spotting opportunities and building repeatable processes for exploiting them. It has a corresponding lack of vision about the human costs of the relentless growth and accumulation of wealth and power."
- Bray wrote that staying in his position after the firings "would have meant, in effect, signing off on actions I despised. So I resigned."
Thought Bubble, from Axios' Scott Rosenberg: Bray is an engineering expert whose role at Amazon Web Services put him at a far end of the giant’s operations from its retail warehouses.
- His resignation represents a high-profile act of dissent at the tech giant, but engineers have a lot more job mobility than many other workers.