At least 1,000 Amazon workers are leaving their jobs due to back-to-the-office mandates and layoffs

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May 23, 2023 | 1:01 p.m

Amazon workers in Seattle plan to quit the job May 31 in an act of retaliation for layoffs and back-to-office authorizations.

At least 1,000 employees at Amazon’s Seattle headquarters will take part in the strike, which was announced via Slack and emails reviewed by The Washington Post.

“We’re really going to show that leadership is taking us in the wrong direction and employees need a say in decisions that affect our lives,” one software engineer at Amazon in Seattle told the Seattle Times anonymously.

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

The newspaper reported that employees are disgruntled with Amazon’s return-to-office mandate, which went into effect May 1, as well as members of Amazon’s climate justice staff taking part in the strike.

At least 1,000 workers are expected to leave their jobs at lunchtime and will congregate outside Spheres on Amazon’s South Lake Union campus in Seattle.

Employees based on Amazon campuses elsewhere in the US are also participating, with reported plans to check out the day after their lunch break.

At least 1,000 Amazon workers in Seattle will leave their jobs as of lunchtime May 31 in an act of protest against layoffs and back-to-the-office mandates.
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Amazon Climate Justice employees cited “failures on the carbon front” and “greenwashing” as reasons for its members to leave 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 not clear what specific products Amazon’s climate justice employees believe are “eco-washed.”

“We respect the rights of our employees to express their opinions,” an Amazon spokesperson told The Times in response to the closure.

This isn’t the first time Amazon employees have argued against the retail giant’s back-to-office plan since it went into effect nearly a month ago.

Amazon CEO Andy Jassy announced a plan to make a mixed work schedule mandatory in February.

In it, he ordered company employees to report to the office at least three days a week. Previously, team leaders could take a call about how often their teams work remotely.

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

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

In March, about 30,000 employees went so far as to sign a petition calling for Jassy to withdraw the mixed work schedule.

The petitioners defended “remote advocacy,” and said that taking mandatory days of working from the office runs counter to Amazon’s positions on affordable housing, diversity, and climate change.

Jassy replied that returning to the office would build an effective collaboration.

Beth Galletti, director of human resources at Amazon, said the plan to return to the office will go ahead as scheduled.

“Given the large size of our workforce and the wide range of businesses and clients we have, we understand that this transition may take some time, but we are confident it will result in long-term benefits of increasing our ability to provide services to our clients, and enhancing our culture,” Galetti said in a company-wide note. .

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

“It’s a one-day march to show strength,” said one of the workers.
The Washington Post via Getty Images

The strike follows a year’s worth of cost-cutting efforts at Amazon, including laying off 105,000 Whole Foods employees in late April and firing another 9,000 workers the month before — a total of 27,000 jobs cut since November.

The layoffs in March extended to the company’s Amazon Web Services, People Experience and Technology (PXT), its advertising, and Twitch live video streaming divisions.

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

Instead, the new employees will report to the Met Park campus, the first phase of the development, which is scheduled to open in June.

“MeetPark will provide space to accommodate more than 14,000 employees,” John Schwettler, Amazon’s head of real estate, confirmed in a statement.

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

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