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Amazon Employees Risk Their Jobs by Criticizing Amazon’s Record on Climate Change

Workers Criticize Amazon on Climate Despite Risk to Jobs

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Amazon employees
Employees walk through a lobby at Amazon's headquarters in Seattle. VOA

Hundreds of employees are openly criticizing Amazon’s record on climate change despite what they say is a company policy that puts their jobs at risk for speaking out.

On Sunday, more than 300 employees of the online retail giant signed their names and job titles to statements on blog post on Medium. The online protest was organized by a group called Amazon Employees For Climate Justice, an advocacy group founded by Amazon workers that earlier this month said the company had sent letters to its members threatening to fire them if they continued to speak to the press.

“It’s our moral responsibility to speak up, and the changes to the communications policy are censoring us from exercising that responsibility,” said Sarah Tracy, a software development engineer at Amazon, in a statement.

Amazon employees at the company logistics centre in Boves
The logo of Amazon is seen at the company logistics centre in Boves, France. VOA

Amazon said that its policy on external communications is not new and is in keeping with other large companies. It said the policy applies to all Amazon employees and is not directed at any specific group.

“While all employees are welcome to engage constructively with any of the many teams inside the company that work on sustainability and other topics, we do enforce our external communications policy and will not allow employees to publicly disparage or misrepresent the company or the hard work of their colleagues who are developing solutions to these hard problems,” according to a spokesperson from the company.

Amazon, which relies on fossil fuels to power the planes, trucks and vans that ship packages all over the world, has an enormous carbon footprint. And its workers have been vocal in criticizing some of the company’s practices.

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Last year, more than 8,000 staffers signed an open letter to CEO and founder Jeff Bezos demanding that it cut its carbon emissions, end its use of fossil fuels and stop its work with oil companies that use Amazon’s technology to locate fossil fuel deposits.

The company said in a statement that it is passionate about climate change issues and has already pledged to become net zero carbon by 2040 and use 100% renewable energy by 2030. (VOA)

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Amazon Opens Its First Cashier-Less Supermarket

In the new supermarket by Amazon, no checkout will be needed as it is cashier-less

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Amazon
Following the opening of several smaller convenience-type stores using an app and cashier-less technology to tally shoppers' selections, the store will be the first Amazon Go full-sized cashier-less grocery store. Pixabay

The online retailing giant is opening its first cashier-less supermarket, the latest sign that Amazon is serious about shaking up the $800 billion grocery industry.

At the new store, opening Tuesday in Seattle, shoppers can grab milk or eggs and walk out without checking out or opening their wallets. Shoppers scan a smartphone app to enter the store. Cameras and sensors track what’s taken off shelves. Items are charged to an Amazon account after leaving.

Called Amazon Go Grocery, the new store is an expansion of its 2-year-old chain of Amazon Go convenience stores. At 10,400 square feet, the supermarket is more than five times the size of the smaller stores, and stocks more items beyond the sodas and sandwiches found at Amazon Go. The new market stocks fresh baked bread, blood oranges, butternut squash and other food to whip up dinner or stock the fridge.

Amazon Grocery Store
Reusable shopping bags are displayed inside an Amazon Go Grocery store set to open soon in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. VOA

The retailing giant is not new to groceries. It made a splash in 2017 when it bought Whole Foods and its 500 stores. It’s also been expanding its online grocery delivery service.

But it’s still far behind rival Walmart, the nation’s largest grocer, which has more than 4,700 stores. Walmart has also found success with its online grocery service, that lets shoppers buy online and then pickup at stores.

It plans to open another type of grocery store in Los Angeles sometime this year, but the company said it won’t use the cashier-less technology at that location and has kept other details under wraps.

At the new Seattle store, families can shop together with just one phone scanning everyone in. Anything they grab from the shelf will be added to the tab of the person who signed them in. But shopper’s shouldn’t help a stranger reach something from the top shelf: Amazon warns that grabbing an item for someone else means you’ll be charged for it.

Amazon
An Amazon Prime delivery truck travels on Interstate highway in Virginia. VOA

While cashier-less stores remove a major annoyance for customers, waiting in long lines to pay, it also takes away parts of supermarket shopping that some customers may miss. There’s no one to bag groceries at Amazon Go Grocery. Instead, the online retailing giant gives out reusable bags so shoppers can fill them as they shop. And there’s no deli counter, butcher or fishmonger. Instead, packaged sliced ham, steaks and salmon fillets are sold in refrigerated shelves.

Other retailers and startups have been racing to create similar cashier-less technology. Earlier this month, for example, 7-Eleven said it is testing a cashier-less store inside its Irving, Texas, offices.

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The company declined to say if it plans to open more cashier-less grocery stores. Since it launched its first Amazon Go store in 2018, the Seattle-based company has opened about 25 of them in big cities, such as Chicago, New York and San Francisco. (VOA)