Amazon’s headquarters are virtually empty on March 10, 2020 in downtown Seattle, Washington. In response to the coronavirus outbreak, Amazon recommended that all employees in its Seattle office work from home, leaving much of the center with almost no people.
John Moore | Getty Images
Amazon employees are signing an internal petition asking the company to give workers free time to vote.
The petition urges Amazon to provide all of its US workforce with paid free time to vote on or before election day. In the United States, Election Day takes place on Tuesday, November 3. Many states also allow voters to vote early in polling stations before election day.
As of Tuesday evening, more than 4,000 technology employees signed the petition, which was filed through Amazon̵
Several US companies have given their employees free time to vote, including Facebook, Apple, Uber, Twitter, Starbucks and Walmart. Amazon, with 876,000 employees worldwide as of August, is the second largest private employer in the United States, behind Walmart.
Amazon employees who supported the petition criticized Amazon for being “below the bar on the matter” compared to other US companies, according to responses seen by CNBC.
Employees also expressed concern that the pandemic will create additional challenges for employees balancing the need to vote and report in order to work, indicating long queues at polling stations and confusion about where and how to vote. Long queues and long waiting times have already sprung up at polling stations in states where early voting has opened, including Texas and Georgia.
“We are less than a month away from the 2020 US election,” says the petition, previously reported by NBC News. “I strongly urge the company to provide the entire US employee workforce with a paid day / shift that can be used anytime between now and Election Day November 3. This additional paid day / shift must be available to all. employees every year. “
An Amazon spokesperson told CNBC that the company allows employees to apply for individual permission.
“In all 47 states with in-person voting, employees who do not have adequate time before or after their scheduled working day to vote can apply and be granted conditional leave,” the spokesman added. “The number of hours and pay provided to employees varies by state in line with local laws.”
The action was organized by Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, an employee advocacy group that previously asked the company to develop a global climate change plan, among other initiatives. More recently, the group has expressed support for warehouse workers who have criticized Amazon’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The AECJ also looked into Amazon’s work practices after two of the group’s leaders, Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa, a former Amazon user experience designer, were fired in April. Both Cunningham and Costa said they were fired in retaliation for continuing criticism of Amazon and after supporting warehousemen’s coronavirus safety concerns. Amazon said it fired Cunningham and Costa for “repeatedly violating internal policies.”