A well-known AWS VP and Distinguished Engineer has quit his job over Amazon firing coronavirus whistleblowers.
Tim Bray published his decision in an open letter on his website, outlining his reasons for leaving the company. Bray had worked at Amazon for over five years. Prior to that, he had worked at Google for four years. Bray says he “quit in dismay at Amazon firing whistleblowers who were making noise about warehouse employees frightened of Covid-19.”
The problems began with climate protests within the company last year, which Bray says resulted in protest leaders being threatened with dismissal. Things took a downhill turn with the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, with workers complaining that not enough was being done to inform and protect them, despite official claims to the contrary.
Things escalated when “a worker organizing for better safety conditions was fired, and brutally insensitive remarks appeared in leaked executive meeting notes where the focus was on defending Amazon ‘talking points.’”
Within short order, individuals leading protests were fired using reasons that Bray called “laughable.” He maintains that any objective observer could see the firings for what they were—an attempt to silence whistleblowers.
“At that point I snapped,” Bray continues. “VPs shouldn’t go publicly rogue, so I escalated through the proper channels and by the book. I’m not at liberty to disclose those discussions, but I made many of the arguments appearing in this essay. I think I made them to the appropriate people.
“That done, remaining an Amazon VP would have meant, in effect, signing off on actions I despised. So I resigned.”
Mr. Bray’s entire post is well worth a read. He has praise for AWS division and how it treats its employees, while making the point that the elite status of AWS workers necessitates better treatment. In contrast, the relatively low-paid warehouse workers don’t have the same power or platform to demand proper treatment.
Whatever one thinks of Amazon, whistleblowers or even Mr. Bray, one must admire a man willing to stand up for what he believes in—even at great cost to himself.