- Tim Bray, a longtime software developer and Amazon executive, wrote a blog post last week slamming the company’s firing of workers who criticized the company’s safety policies.
- Bray said he resigned from the company because of the company’s treatment of workers.
- Bray later told Business Insider that he doesn’t have any particular agenda behind his moves, saying he’s simply “a blogger.”
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Tim Bray, a longtime Amazon executive and influential software developer who stepped down last week after writing a critical blog post about the company’s firing of activist workers, says he’s not expecting to get anything out of his widely publicized move.
The blog post, he said, is simply meant to be a record of his life.
“I’m a blogger — I write the story of my life,” Bray told Business Insider. “Sorry, there’s no master plan.”
Bray said he was “genuinely” just writing a story on his blog because it was a major life event. While acknowledging there’s now a lot of online buzz around his blog post, Bray said he didn’t expect this level of attention as it’s always hard to tell what goes viral online.
“When you write something, you never know whether the response is meaningful and actually affected people’s lives until much later,” said Bray, who helped create the XML language that’s a key element of the web and who has spent decades in tech working at companies like Sun Microsystems and Google.
Whether he intended it or not, Bray’s blog post has now become one of the biggest national stories with potential for further repercussions around Amazon’s future.
In the blog post, Bray slammed Amazon’s firing of whistleblowers who criticized the company’s treatment of warehouse workers, calling it a “chickenshit” move. His initial tweet about the post has been shared over 4,000 times, and the sudden spike in traffic has slowed his blog, he said in another tweet Monday.
“I put a whole lot of effort into writing that blog piece and it represents what I want to say at this point,” Bray said over the phone.
Amazon’s representative declined to comment on this story.
Bray’s post comes at a time when Amazon, which has a history of being anti-union, is facing unprecedented pushback from its employees over its working conditions. Amazon’s warehouse workers have staged multiple walkouts over the past month in protest of the company’s lack of safety measures, while some office employees publicly criticized the treatment of those workers.
Amazon fired some of the employees who led those protests, including warehouse workers Chris Smalls and Bashir Mohammed, as well as corporate employees Maren Costa and Emily Cunningham, who have criticized the company’s climate policies. Bray said in his post that he “escalated” his concerns internally but didn’t elaborate on how those talks went.
“That done, remaining an Amazon VP would have meant, in effect, signing off on actions I despised. So I resigned,” he wrote.
Erin Hatton, a sociology professor at University of Buffalo, said Bray’s move is “hugely symbolic,” given how rare it is for a senior executive to resign over the treatment of lower-ranked employees. She said Bray’s move could go a long way in pushing Amazon to do more for its warehouse workers.
“This is an incredibly powerful move, one we need to see much more of — high-level management vocally supporting frontline workers, even to the point of resigning, when other avenues of support have not worked,” Hatton said.
It’s unclear how exactly this will lead to more change. Robert Bruno, who teaches labor and employment relations at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, said there’s no indication of these moves leading to other executives to speak out, in part because it’s so rare. This could be helpful for workers attempting to get more regulatory attention as they could point out a high-profile executive of the company represents a larger body of the workforce.
“It helps to push a bit against the company that probably feels it’s untouchable, given its importance to the economy,” Bruno said.
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