News & Opinion | May 4, 2020 11:34 am

Amazon VP Resigns Over Whistleblower Firings, Calls Company “Chickenshit”

Tim Bray says staying on "would have meant signing off on actions I despised"

Amazon workers protest during pandemic
Amazon workers protest during the National May Day Walkout/Sickout.
VALERIE MACON / AFP via Getty

Tim Bray, a longtime senior engineer and VP at Amazon, has resigned over the company’s firing of whistleblowers who raised concerns about warehouse employees being put at risk of contracting COVID-19, saying in an open letter that staying on “would have meant, in effect, signing off on actions I despised.”

“I quit in dismay at Amazon firing whistleblowers who were making noise about warehouse employees frightened of COVID-19,” he wrote in the letter. “What with big-tech salaries and share vestings, this will probably cost me over a million (pre-tax) dollars, not to mention the best job I’ve ever had, working with awfully good people. So I’m pretty blue.”

Despite that, Bray called Amazon’s actions “chickenshit” and said he couldn’t keep working for the company in good faith after Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa, two workers who called for better conditions, were fired on the spot. “Management could have objected to the event, or demanded that outsiders be excluded, or that leadership be represented, or any number of other things; there was plenty of time,” Bray wrote. “Instead, they just fired the activists. At that point I snapped.”

Cunningham took to Twitter to publicly thank Bray for speaking out.

As for what’s next for Bray? “I don’t know, genuinely haven’t taken time to think about it,” he writes. “I’m sad, but I’m breathing more freely.” You can read his letter in its entirety here.

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