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The walkout has been organized by Amazon Employees for Climate Justice (AECJ), headed by former employees Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa. The two employees were fired on April 10 after they publicly criticized the company over its work conditions in light of the pandemic.
In an April 16 post on Medium, Cunningham and Costa called for employees to call in sick on April 24. The post also listed a number of demands from AECJ, including immediate reinstatements of Cunningham and Costa, public disclosure of the company’s protocol for tracking COVID-19 cases and commitments to climate justice, among others.
“We invite you to take a sick day and join us on Friday, April 24 for a day-long livestream,” the group wrote in a Google doc.
While Amazon maintained that the two were fired for violating “internal policy,” Cunningham and Costa claimed they were fired for their very public protest efforts.
The Washington Post reported this past January that Amazon sent letters to Cunningham and Costa for violating “external communications” policy and that future infractions could “result in formal corrective action, up to and including termination of your employment with Amazon.”
Amazon’s external communications policy has blocked employees from commenting publicly on its business without corporate justification and approval from executives.
The company told the Post it supported every employee’s “right to criticize their employer’s working conditions, but that does not come with blanket immunity against any and all internal policies. We terminated these employees for repeatedly violating internal policies.”
In January, AECJ posted hundreds of testimonies from employees who said they were worried about the company’s lack of commitment to fighting climate change.
As the coronavirus pandemic grew more severe, the group switched its focus to demand worker protections in warehouses, but they continued to ask for a commitment from Amazon to fight climate change.