An Amazon Vice President Quit Over Firings of Employees Who Protested

A prominent engineer and vice president of Amazon’s cloud computing arm said on Monday that he had quit “in dismay” over the recent firings of workers who had raised questions about workplace safety during the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr. Bray, who had worked for the company for more than five years, called the fired workers whistle-blowers, and said that firing them was “evidence of a vein of toxicity running through the company culture.”

“I choose neither to serve nor drink that poison,” he wrote.

Amazon declined to comment on Monday. The company had previously said it fired Mr. Smalls because he had violated its policies by leaving a quarantine — he had previously been exposed to a sick worker — to attend the protest at the site.

Amazon told Ms. Costa and Ms. Cunningham that they had violated a policy that forbids Amazon workers from asking their co-workers to donate to causes or sign petitions.

He said in an email that he did not have any specific goals in mind when he wrote the blog post and that he did not expect it to receive much attention.

“I’m a blogger and I share the story of my life when I think it might interest or help others,” he said.

Employees have protested at several Amazon facilities, saying they feel unsafe and fear warehouses have been contaminated with the coronavirus. Other employees are demanding better pay or more sick leave.

Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Senators Robert Menendez and Cory Booker, both of New Jersey, have written to Amazon’s chief executive, Jeff Bezos, to express concern about warehouse safety.

The company has rolled out various safety measures at its warehouses across the country, such as temperature checks and mandatory masks.

Mr. Bray acknowledged in his blog post that Amazon was prioritizing warehouse safety. But he said he also believed the workers.

“At the end of the day, the big problem isn’t the specifics of Covid-19 response,” he wrote. “It’s that Amazon treats the humans in the warehouses as fungible units of pick-and-pack potential. Only that’s not just Amazon, it’s how 21st-century capitalism is done.”

Mr. Bezos said in a statement last week that the company expected to make around $4 billion in operating profit in the next quarter. But he said Amazon expected “to spend the entirety of that $4 billion, and perhaps a bit more, on Covid-related expenses getting products to customers and keeping employees safe.”

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