From the Seattle Times:
"More than 1,700 Amazon employees have pledged to walk off the job on Wednesday, demanding more flexibility with remote work and more attention on Amazon’s climate impact.
"Of the 1,726 employees who had signed on to participate by Tuesday afternoon, about 830 plan to physically walk out of offices in Amazon’s Seattle headquarters while another 890 will join from offices around the world."
The story points out that the walkout has been prompted by a confluence of employee frustrations over management's requirement that staffers return to the office three days a week, the thousands of layoffs that have roiled Amazon's culture, and what appears to be a backing off from climate change-related commitments.
An Amazon spokesperson tells the Times, "We respect our employees’ rights to express their opinions."
Amazon has more than 1.5 million employees globally. The number of employees walking out represents 0.1151 percent of that total.
According to the Times, "In Seattle, participating employees will gather outside the Spheres in South Lake Union Wednesday from noon to 1 p.m., organizers said. They chose Seattle because so many Amazonians are based here — the company says about 55,000 people work from its Seattle offices — and because it is 'the place most symbolically Amazon'."
- KC's View:
I get that Amazon employees are frustrated about certain things, but I have to admit that I'm a little less sympathetic to the resistance to the return-to-office-three-days-a-week mandate. I do think that a lot of businesses benefit from personal collaboration, and that leadership is within its rights to want to create a climate in which it can flourish.
(To be fair, I think that leadership also has to be cognizant of how employees' priorities and expectations have changed over the past three years, and maybe find a way to be less than dogmatic about it. I also think that leaders have to walk the walk and not just talk the talk - employees have a legitimate complaint if leaders are issuing these mandates from a beach in the Hamptons or a yacht in the Caribbean.)
Where it gets challenging is at a company like Amazon, where there are so many people who simply cannot work from home - it creates a bifurcated work culture that can be hard to navigate.
The New York Times has a piece about the subject this morning, in which it observes:
"Thousands of corporate employees, across industries, who remain adamant that they do not want to return to the office are now confronting a tension: How do their demands compare with those of the millions of workers whose jobs have never permitted them the ease of remote work? And can a corporate employee’s advocacy be of use to workers, including those trying to unionize, outside the corporate sphere?
"This tension follows a pandemic that exacerbated the divide between white-collar workers who could do their jobs from the safety of their homes and workers who often could not and were exposed to higher Covid risks.
"Simultaneously, workers in both the corporate and noncorporate realms have re-evaluated their working conditions, quit their jobs in waves and called for higher wages, amid a tight labor market at one point called a 'workers economy.' The unemployment rate this spring has remained low, at 3.4 percent, with wages rising."
There seems to be little evidence that this "workers economy" will be ending anytime soon, and I'm not entirely sure that shifting into an "employers economy" would be any better. It ought not be a zero-sum game.
I have said it here before and I'll say it again. If Amazon put as much creativity and innovation into its workplace culture as it has into so much of its other endeavors, it would be a different company with an entirely different narrative.