Amazon Employees Stage Walkout to Protest Layoffs, Sustainability Policies, and Return-to-Office Mandate

Hundreds of Amazon office workers staged a walkout on Wednesday to protest a slate of issues, including recent layoffs, sustainability policies, and a demand for employees to return to the office. According to the organizers of the protest, around 1,000 workers in Amazon's hometown of Seattle and 2,000 others in different locations participated in the walkout, as reported by The Washington Post. According to an Amazon representative, the number of attendees was significantly less, totaling only 300.[0]

Organizing through Slack, the group contended that Amazon's mandate for employees to physically return to work would result in heightened carbon emissions due to increased commuting.[0] The removal of a section of Amazon's climate commitment from the company's website was also a matter of concern.[1] One email circulated among employees, stating that Amazon is actively worsening this crisis under our observation and through our efforts, and each of us has the chance and obligation to take action against it.[2]

In response to the company's return-to-office mandate, the walkout is a collaboration between Amazon Employees for Climate Justice and Amazon's Remote Advocacy community leaders.[3] The Climate Pledge has at its core a determination to achieve a state of net zero emissions by 2040 by means of reducing carbon and offsetting. Instead of offsetting emissions and setting a longer timeline, employee activists are urging Amazon to pledge zero carbon emissions by 2030.

Earlier this year, Amazon declared that from May 1 onwards, its workers would be mandated to come back to the office for a minimum of three days per week.[4] In the latter half of 2021, Amazon had implemented a policy that permitted team leaders to make the decision regarding their team's work location, but now there has been a shift in this policy.[5]

Following Amazon's announcement in March that it would be reducing an additional 9,000 jobs, on top of the 18,000 positions cut in January, a walkout has been planned.[6] After a succession of layoffs in recent months, employee activism has emerged.[7] Amazon revealed its intention to cut off more than 18,000 positions, which includes the previously announced job cuts in November, at the beginning of January.[7] Since last fall, the company has cut a total of 27,000 jobs.[8]

Eliza Pan, co-founder of the Amazon Employees for Climate Justice group and a former Amazon worker, stated at the Seattle walkout on Wednesday that many Amazonians have a gut feeling that something is amiss within the company.[9] “And there are a lot of signs of this, such as a rigid, one-size-fits-all return-to-office mandate.”

In response, an Amazon spokesperson said, “We respect our employees’ rights to express their opinions.” However, the company maintains that it is happy with its return-to-office policy and progress towards its Climate Pledge goals.[10]

The walkout highlights ongoing tensions between Amazon and its employees over issues including sustainability, job security, and remote work policies. As pressure grows on companies to address the climate crisis, employee activism is likely to continue to play a significant role in shaping corporate policies and practices.

0. “Amazon Employees Walk Out to Protest Mandated Return to Office” The Daily Beast, 31 May. 2023,

1. “Hundreds of Amazon employees pledge to walk out over company's carbon footprint, in-person work policy” KUOW News and Information, 31 May. 2023,

2. “Amazon workers walk out amid layoffs, citing concerns for climate” The Washington Post, 31 May. 2023,

3. “Nearly 2000 Amazon employees walk off job, upset over work from office rules and job cuts” India Today, 31 May. 2023,

4. “Amazon Workers Walk Out Over Layoffs and Broken Climate Promises” WIRED, 31 May. 2023,

5. “Seattle Amazon workers plan walkout over return to office, layoffs” The Seattle Times, 22 May. 2023,

6. “Amazon employee groups expect nearly 2000 workers to participate in walkout” GeekWire, 31 May. 2023,

7. “Nearly 2,000 Amazon workers to walk out after return to office” msnNOW, 31 May. 2023,

8. “Amazon workers plan walkout Wednesday over return-to-office, climate frustrations” KGAN TV, 31 May. 2023,

9. “Citing ‘lack of trust’ Amazon corporate workers stage walkout” The Mercury News, 31 May. 2023,

10. “Amazon staff protest climate record and office return” BBC, 31 May. 2023,

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