More than 350 Amazon workers are speaking out about climate change, defying the company’s policy on making public comments about business activity.
In a Medium post on Sunday night, 357 employees posted quotes critical of climate-related actions taken by the online retail giant.
They said in a separate statement posted to Twitter that the quotes were to protest “Amazon’s newly updated external communications policy, which forbids employees from speaking about the company’s business without prior approval.”
The workers said the new policy was unveiled last year after Amazon employees said they would participate in a climate strike in September.
“This clearly shows that as Amazon tech workers have reflected upon what is the right thing to do at this moment, they decided that they needed to keep speaking out,” software development engineer Victoria Liang said in the Twitter statement.
“Every person who shared a statement had to decide for themselves that whatever the consequences, they needed to stand up for what they felt was right. The climate crisis is just that urgent. We just couldn’t be silenced by these policies on issues of such moral weight,” Liang added.
The Medium post follows a report earlier this month from The Washington Post, which is owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, that said Amazon threatened to fire at least two employees who expressed concern about the company’s environmental policies.
Representatives from Amazon told The Hill at the time that the company’s external communications policy was “not new and we believe is similar to other large companies.”
After employees said they would participate in the September climate strike, Bezos announced that the company would commit to carbon neutrality by 2040 and 100 percent renewable energy by 2030.
In response to a request for comment Monday, an Amazon spokesperson highlighted those commitments in a statement to The Hill.
“While all employees are welcome to engage constructively with any of the many teams inside Amazon that work on sustainability and other topics, we do enforce our external communications policy and will not allow employees to publicly disparage or misrepresent the company or the hard work of their colleagues who are developing solutions to these hard problems,” the spokesperson added.
Employees are encouraged to suggest improvements internally, according to Amazon.
Activists have also pushed the company to sever ties with the fossil fuel industry, a move that Bezos in September disagreed with, saying, “We need to help them instead of vilify them.”
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Monday voiced support for the Amazon employees.
“I stand with these Amazon employees who are courageously speaking out,” he tweeted. “They are telling Jeff Bezos to end his hypocrisy: You cannot call your corporation a ‘leader’ on climate change while partnering with ExxonMobil and BP to extract more fossil fuels.”