Thousands of workers from Amazon, Twitter, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Square, and other tech companies are expected to walk out today as part of a worldwide climate change strike led by 16-year-old activist Greta Thunberg. After Amazon workers announced they were joining the demonstration last week, employees from other Silicon Valley firms began joining in. The same group of Amazon employees have been pushing the company to reduce its carbon footprint for nearly a year. Now, over 1,700 of them and counting have said they will join Friday’s walkout, which is expected to draw millions of participants in cities around the world.
The tech workers participating in the strike are part of a wider wave of employee activism that has spread across Silicon Valley over the past year. Many of those demonstrations concerned workplace issues at individual companies, such as sexual harassment or controversial government contracts. Friday’s walkout represents a broader coalition across different corporations, focused on an issue facing the entire planet. Many of these employees make up one of the more privileged and highly visible labor forces in the world, working for innovative and resource-rich companies. If their efforts on climate change keep gaining momentum, they may have a significant impact, especially as the Trump administration continues to roll back environmental initiatives.
“I think as a business we are supposed to be customer obsessed, and as employees we are supposed to challenge leadership on what we think is best,” says Kevin Imrie, a recruiter at Amazon’s office in Toronto, where he says dozens of people participated in the strike earlier today. “I’m a shareholder, and a good employee, and this is the right thing for us and our customers.”