Tim Bray, the senior Amazon engineer who dramatically resigned in protest, just told a union meeting of engineers and workers the company should be broken up
Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.
Clodagh Kilcoyne / Reuters
Tim Bray, the senior Amazon engineer, who left the company dramatically in May, spoke of Amazon employees ahead of a union conference on Thursday.
Bray said there is an imbalance of power between Amazon and its warehouse workers, and the best way to fix it is by organizing the workers. He also suggested breaking up the company.
"Why on earth should an online retailer, a cloud computing company, a smart speaker company, an organic supermarket company and a video production company be grouped into one business unit controlled by one person?" said Bray
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Tim Bray, the senior Amazon engineer, who resigned in May to protest the dismissal of internal critics, said Thursday the company should be dissolved.
Bray spoke at a zoom meeting organized by the Global Amazon Union Alliance, a multinational group of unions from over 20 countries. Amazon warehouse workers, engineers, organizers, and media companies attended the meeting, including Business Insider.
During his speech, Bray denounced the imbalance of power between Amazon management and its warehouse workers. Many of the Amazon fulfillment center employees work as contractors and part-time workers, rather than full-time workers with significant wages and benefits. Bray said Amazon's acclaimed business model and customer experience were at the expense of these more precarious workers.
"They pay the cost because they have very little power in the 21st century economy," Bray told attendees. "Any solution must start by eliminating this power imbalance. Obvious ways forward are union organization and policies to improve the legal and regulatory framework."
Bray said that meaningful policies would involve dissolving Amazon's various businesses, thereby reducing what he described as a monopoly power.
"Why on earth should an online retailer, a cloud computing company, a smart speaker company, an organic supermarket company and a video production company be grouped into one business unit controlled by one person?" he said. He said the US needed "aggressive antitrust laws to break up these operations."
Bray specifically referred to Amazon's AWS cloud computing arm, which continues to make up most of Amazon's operating profit.
In the first three months of 2020, AWS generated operating income of $ 3 billion, which is 77% of Amazon's total operating income.
"In fact, cloud computing provides the resources that Amazon uses to destroy entire retail sectors. In which reasonable universe is this a good idea?" Bray said.
"AWS should be an independent company that reports profits and pays taxes on its profits," said Bray.
He said technology from Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Google is generally monopolized. "When you look at the goods and services that these companies offer to the world, I find it absurd that only five companies do it, there should be a hundred companies that do it."
Tim Bray isn't the only voice calling for an antitrust review from Amazon.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that the European Commission plans to file a lawsuit against Amazon for dealing with the company with third parties on its marketplace platform. It's about the way Amazon acts both as a marketplace for these sellers and as a direct seller itself.
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