The Bulldozer and Bray: Amazon and Its People Policies in Action

May 4, 2020

I read “Bye, Amazon.” The author is Tim Bray. Some may remember him as one of the spark plugs of Open Text. He did some nifty visualization work. He did the Google thing until 2014. From 2014 until a couple of days ago he worked at Amazon, the Bezos bulldozer, the online bookstore, and all-around economic engine of Covid America.

The write up states:

I quit in dismay at Amazon firing whistleblowers who were making noise about warehouse employees frightened of Covid-19.

When Amazon terminated with prejudice the Amazonians protesting.

Mr. Bray’s reaction was

Snap!

Mr. Bray was upset, went through Amazon channels, and resigned.

He states about the warehouse worker action:

It’s not just workers who are upset. Here are Attorneys-general from 14 states speaking out. Here’s the New York State Attorney-general with more detailed complaints. Here’s Amazon losing in French courts, twice.

On the other hand, he points out:

Amazon Web Services (the “Cloud Computing” arm of the company), where I worked, is a different story. It treats its workers humanely, strives for work/life balance, struggles to move the diversity needle (and mostly fails, but so does everyone else), and is by and large an ethical organization. I genuinely admire its leadership.

In his penultimate paragraph he offers:

At the end of the day, it’s all about power balances. The warehouse workers are weak and getting weaker, what with mass unemployment and (in the US) job-linked health insurance. So they’re gonna get treated like crap, because capitalism. Any plausible solution has to start with increasing their collective strength.

Several observations:

  • Mr. Bray has a moral compass. DarkCyber finds that of value.
  • Amazon’s “power” has been largely unchecked since the mid 1990s, and only now are actions building like storm clouds on the horizon.
  • Mr. Bray was able to continue working for the Google but he could not continue working at Amazon. That’s interesting in itself.

Net net: Will Amazon take steps to deal with what seems to be the Tim Bray situation? Do Prime customers get orders delivered on time? Not if warehouse employees put sand in the Bezos bulldozer’s differential.

Stephen E Arnold, May 4, 2020

Comments

Got something to say?





  • Archives

  • Recent Posts

  • Meta