retail news in context, analysis with attitude

From the Seattle Times:

"Tim Bray, a veteran technologist and one of Amazon’s top engineers, resigned from what he called 'the best job I’ve ever had' to protest the company’s dismissal of two leaders of an

employee climate group who had spoken out about treatment of warehouse workers.

"He described the firings as 'evidence of a vein of toxicity running through the company culture. I choose neither to serve nor drink that poison'," and added on his blog, "I quit in dismay at Amazon firing whistleblowers who were making noise about warehouse employees frightened of Covid-19."

Bray said he was walking away from m ore than $1 million in pretax income and stock.

Here's some context from the Times story:

"Bray, a vice president and distinguished engineer, objected to the terminations of Maren Costa and Emily Cunningham, leaders of Amazon Employees for Climate Justice (AECJ), on April 10, as well as of warehouse workers who have organized walkouts … Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Costa and Cunningham circulated petitions from warehouse workers seeking improved safety conditions and policies, helped organize video conferences where warehouse workers could share their experiences with Amazon’s tech and corporate employees and called for employees to take a sick day in protest … Amazon said Costa and Cunningham were fired for repeatedly violating company policies."

The story notes that Bray "was the highest ranked of more than 8,700 Amazon employees to sign an AECJ letter in spring of 2019 urging CEO Jeff Bezos and Amazon’s board of directors to take the lead on climate change."

The Times writes that "Bray said the underlying issue is not how Amazon is handling COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, but something more fundamental to the power structures in the company and the system in which it flourishes. He said that while Amazon is 'exceptionally well-managed' and skilled at finding and exploiting business opportunities, the company 'has a corresponding lack of vision about the human costs of the relentless growth and accumulation of wealth and power'."

KC's View:

I'm not sure the degree to which Bray's resignation will hurt Amazon's business operations, but you can bet that it will generate a lot of headlines and attention.  It also likely will result in Bray being invited to testify before some Congressional committee or another, since Amazon seems to be a magnet for that kind of attention these days.

I keep saying it - Amazon seems to have lost control of this narrative.  If I were there, I'd be doing everything possible to regain it.  Though, to be fair, Amazon is saying that it is doing everything possible to treat its employees fairly and compassionately.

I must admit that the phrase that sort of bothers me is the one about a "lack of vision about the human costs of the relentless growth and accumulation of wealth and power."  I wonder if statements like that create any introspection at Amazon.   If someone accused me of that, I'd be mortified … and probably would obsess on it for a long time.  But then again, I rank very low on the whole accumulation-of-wealth-and-power scale, which probably explains something.