Tech Worker Tensions Boil Over as Amazon Employees Plan Walkout Among Layoff Turmoil

Tech Worker Tensions Boil Over as Amazon Employees Plan Walkout Among Layoff Turmoil
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By Nina Singh-Hudson - Published on May 22, 2023.

In an ongoing wave of turmoil in Silicon Valley, employee unrest reached new heights Monday as Amazon workers planned a walkout at the company's Seattle headquarters, according to The Washington Post. The walkout was announced in response to company layoffs, dissatisfaction with the return-to-office mandate, and concerns about Amazon's commitments to fighting climate change.

As reported by The Washington Post, employee organizers circulated messages via Slack and email, calling on colleagues to participate in a walkout on May 31, a week following Amazon's annual shareholder meeting. This comes amid a climate of anxiety and agitation among tech workers as mass layoffs continue across the industry.

Indeed, a sense of unrest has spread throughout the tech world, with top executives at Meta, Google, and Amazon announcing widespread job cuts. In some cases, workers have taken issue not only with the layoffs themselves but also with company treatment and lack of communication from leadership. Forbes reports that Meta, Disney, and Amazon have all recently carried out layoffs, affecting thousands of workers in various divisions.

Amazon was among the first to admit to over-hiring during the pandemic, with job cuts announced last year. The Washington Post notes that Amazon has since eliminated 27,000 jobs, prompting employees to petition for a reconsideration of the company's return-to-office mandate. The petition was rejected, and the company is moving forward with a three-day in-person work policy for all employees.

Aside from Amazon, tech giant Meta announced further layoffs, revealing plans to cut 10,000 jobs in addition to the 11,000 eliminated last year. As industries like advertising, gaming, and on-air presentations are impacted by this employment turbulence, workers are left grappling with uncertainty.

Google, too, is experiencing internal discomfort as employees are uncertain about the future of their jobs. Many are left bracing for potential job eliminations as the echoes of financial issues reverberate across the sector.

In this environment of job insecurity and lack of clarity, tensions between rank-and-file workers and senior leaders within tech companies have escalated. For instance, following the revelation of highly lucrative bonuses awarded to top Meta executives, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced changes to the bonus system in response to employee complaints, as reported by The Washington Post.

While Meta's stock price had surged 72% since the start of the year, it actually dipped 1.2% after the news of layoffs. Similarly, Disney experienced a 0.4% drop in pre-market trading, though Amazon saw a slight 0.3% increase upon the announcement of job cuts, says the Forbes article.

As Q1 earnings reports from Meta, Disney, and Amazon roll out in the coming weeks and months, Wall Street will be watching closely to see if the recent mass layoffs can save these companies from further financial struggle. Amid this storm of layoffs and uncertainty, employees in the tech world find themselves navigating a tumultuous atmosphere and calling for accountability from the companies they work for.

The Amazon walkout scheduled for next week symbolizes a tipping point for worker dissatisfaction within the technology sector.