An Amazon warehouse worker said engineer Tim Bray 'didn't take it far enough' when slamming the company for firing whistleblowers

An Amazon warehouse worker said engineer Tim Bray 'didn't take it far enough' when slamming the company for firing whistleblowers
The inside of an Amazon fulfillment center in Robbinsville, New Jersey on December 2, 2019.REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo
  • An Amazon worker named John Hopkins published a blog post claiming he was dismissed from the company after handing out union flyers.
  • Hopkins said officially he was fired for violating social distancing protocol, but claimed this was an excuse.
  • He said his experience chimes with criticisms made by former senior Amazon engineer Tim Bray, who resigned after reports that Amazon was dismissing workers who protested working conditions during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Business Insider approached Amazon for comment.

Another Amazon employee has come out accusing the company of retaliating against dissent and union organizing.

On Wednesday, California warehouse worker John Hopkins published a blog post saying he'd been suspended from his job at Amazon.

"The officially given reason for my suspension is that I 'knowingly and repeatedly refused to follow social distancing protocol despite repeated directives from your managers,'" Hopkins wrote.

He continued: "My perspective is that the real reason for my suspension is that my managers did not want to acknowledge and commit to providing a response to my email of April 26, which pointed out that non-Amazon flyers for external Delivery Service Providers were being allowed on the bulletin board while my union flyers were being removed."

Hopkins previously told The Guardian about the pamphlets going missing. "No matter where I put them in the building they turn up missing shortly thereafter," he told The Guardian in early May.


According to Hopkins the flyers he was bringing in kept routinely vanishing from his locker, and at one point the warehouse swapped lockers where workers brought their own locks to ones with keypads.

On May 1 Hopkins joined a mass strike of Amazon and other retail workers. He clocked out and went to the lunch room to hand out his flyers.

"I was there talking to a co-worker, just as lunch was about to end when the manager first came in to talk to me about the 'social distancing protocol,'" he writes. Hopkins was suspended the next day. He wrote that HR took a month to investigate him, during which he said Amazon routinely refused to put anything in writing.

Business Insider has approached Amazon for comment.

An Amazon warehouse worker said engineer Tim Bray 'didn't take it far enough' when slamming the company for firing whistleblowers
Amazon workers protesting the company's policies during the coronavirus pandemic on May 1 in Hawthorne, California.Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images


Hopkins isn't the only worker to claim Amazon used social distancing policy as an excuse to fire him.

Amazon also said the dismissal of union organizer Chris Smalls, who was fired after he led a protest over coronavirus safety at his New York warehouse, was because he violated social distancing rules.

"Amazon would rather fire workers than face up to its total failure to do what it should to keep us, our families, and our communities safe. I am outraged and disappointed, but I'm not shocked," Smalls said at the time.

Tim Bray "didn't take it far enough"

Hopkins said his experience fits with a public critique of the company that was posted at the beginning of May by senior engineer Tim Bray, who resigned from the company for what he viewed as retaliation against whistleblowers.

Bray's criticisms were met with resistance by Amazon VP Brad Porter, who called Bray's blogpost "deeply offensive to the core."


Hopkins said the purpose of his blog was to "show how Brad's response to Tim's critique of Amazon missed the point in a manner that spoke volumes." Hopkins believes that Porter's response focused on worker safety rather than retaliation against whistleblowers, which was Bray's main contention.

"Based on my experience, my perspective is that Tim's analysis is exactly correct — although, I do feel compelled to make one criticism of it: he didn't take it far enough!"

Bray tweeted a link to Hopkins' blog saying Hopkins "goes places I wouldn't," but adds that he enjoyed reading it.

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