Amazon workers protest selling books they say are anti-trans

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A group of Amazon employees broke up a Pride Month event at the company’s Seattle headquarters on Wednesday, protesting the company’s continued sale of books they say are anti-trans.

According to an employee who attended the event, about 30 employees took part in the protest, interrupting Amazon’s annual pride flag raising by posing on the ground wrapped in trans flags. The participants are members of No Hate at Amazon, which is calling on the company to stop producing and selling books the group says are harmful to transgender youth.

“Amazon has permanent policies against hate speech in its content and technically they say we don’t sell it,” said an organizer for the group, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation. “But we’ve obviously seen through a number of these books that that’s not the case when it comes to transphobic material.” (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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The Amazon Group is part of a broader movement of tech workers, including employees of Google, Twitter and Facebook, who have organized to not only improve working conditions, but also influence workplaces. broader company policies. Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, which was founded by two employees who later settled charges of unlawful retaliation after Amazon fired them, continued to press the company over its environmental record. And Amazon employees recently rallied to protest the company’s participation in Project Nimbus, an Israeli government cloud computing contract.

Unions have also made inroads at tech companies like Apple and Amazon, where warehouse workers at a Staten Island factory voted to join the Amazon Labor Union, which plans to fight for salary increases and longer breaks. The company contests the result of this election.

In March, the No Hate at Amazon group circulated a petition demanding that Amazon stop selling titles like “Johnny the Walrus” and “Irreversible Damage,” and that the company set up an oversight board that would allow employees to democratically determine what content is appropriate. for sale on the site. The organizer said at least 500 people using verified Amazon email addresses have signed the petition, which was presented to company leadership last summer. At the time, some employees quit over the company’s refusal to stop selling those books, NBC News reported.

One of the attendees at Wednesday’s event, Lina Jodoin, a senior software engineer, said she also quit her job at Amazon this week for the same reason. “Even though it’s about books for sale, for me personally it’s also very much about the response we’ve had from management as we’ve tried to scale up,” said Jodoin, who worked for Amazon for eight years. . “I fear that bad actors outside of Amazon…will continue to escalate their harassment of our customers and employees, given that we have shown that there are no repercussions for harassing behavior in regards to relates to our market.”

LGBTQ rights group GLAAD also critical the decision to continue to sell the books opposed by the militant employees.

Amazon has already been willing to remove content from its site, pulling a book called ‘When Harry Became Sally’ in March 2021 because he described “LGBTQ+ identity as a mental illness.”

But more recently, he refused to remove those books — some of which, like “Irreversible Damage,” the company sells Kindle editions, and others, like “Desist, Detrans, & Detox: Getting Your Child Out of the Gender Cult” . “, it distributes through its direct publishing arm. Amazon continued to sell and print “irreversible damage” even after the American Booksellers Association apologized for its promotion and retail competitor Target pulled the book from its website in July.

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Amazon has clashed with some LGBTQ rights groups ahead of this year’s Pride Month, which began on Wednesday. Seattle Pride, the group that organizes the city’s annual Pride Parade, banned Amazon as a corporate sponsor in March and refused to accept a $100,000 donation because of the company’s ties to some lawmakers. and organizations. Specifically, the organization cited Amazon’s donations to lawmakers who voted against anti-discrimination bills and the failure to suppress anti-gay groups that raise funds through its charity platform, AmazonSmile.

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