- Amazon is keeping a closer eye on large internal email lists, Recode reported Wednesday.
- Some employees perceived the increased enforcement as an attempt by Amazon to limit activism within its ranks, according to Recode, while the company told Business Insider the move was part of a routine audit.
- Activists fired by Amazon earlier in April accused the company of trying to shut down a virtual event discussing working conditions by deleting employees’ calendar invites.
- Amazon workers have become increasingly critical in recent weeks of the company’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, organizing multiple protests and walkouts.
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Amazon is ramping up enforcement of its internal communications rules limiting employees’ use of large email lists, Recode reported Wednesday.
Amazon’s IT department told employees who manage email lists of more than 500 people that they must have moderators pre-approve posts on those lists — an existing rule that some employees said was rarely enforced, according to Recode.
Additionally, the moderators must be designated “L6” managers or above, effectively limiting the list of employees able to approve posts to a smaller subset of higher ranking managers, sparking concerns that the company is trying to prevent workers from organizing, Recode reported.
“It’s obviously and transparently being done to shut down employee communication,” an Amazon corporate employee told Recode, adding: “If we wanted to share information about a firing internally or publicize an event, we would need to convince a moderator to let us do it — and that would be mean them risking getting fired.”
An Amazon spokesperson told Business Insider the increased enforcement came as result of a routine audit that discovered some lists weren’t being moderated as required under the policy or had been granted exemptions that were no longer allowed.
Amazon has repeatedly come under fire in recent weeks from employees who say the company is enforcing internal communications policies in ways that make it difficult for them to voice concerns about working conditions or organize — rights protected under federal law.
Earlier in April, two Seattle-based software engineers who were fired by Amazon after publicly criticizing its response to the coronavirus pandemic accused the company of deleting employees’ calendar invites to a virtual event they had organized to discuss warehouse working conditions.
“Amazon has shown they will not allow us to share details for how to join the meeting internally, so we are forced to gather externally,” Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, the group behind the event, wrote in a Google form announcing the event.
“We support 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,” Amazon told Business Insider in a statement at the time.
Amazon has fired at least six workers in recent weeks following their involvement in protests. The company is now facing multiple inquiries from the National Labor Relations Board about whether it unlawfully retaliated against workers who spoke out, as well as an investigation brought by New York City’s human rights commissioner concerning the same issue. Earlier this week, New York’s attorney general said Amazon may have violated the state’s whistleblower law by firing a warehouse worker who went on strike.
Amazon workers have organized multiple strikes in New York, Chicago, Minnesota, Italy, and virtually after colleagues tested positive for COVID-19, calling the company’s coronavirus response inadequate and criticizing its refusal to provide information about the number of its warehouses which have seen outbreaks of the disease.
Amazon has defended conditions in its warehouses, telling Business Insider in previous statements that it’s ramping up cleaning efforts, enforcing social distancing guidelines, building its own lab to begin testing a small number of employees for the coronavirus, and that it has raised employees’ pay.
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