While Apple Is Launching an iPhone, its Largest Competitors Are Going on a Climate Strike

Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft workers have all pledged to strike on September 20.
September 17, 2019, 3:02pm
Getty Images/Alex Tai

In a historic first, more than 1,200 Amazon employees announced last week that they will walk out of their offices on September 20 over the company’s carbon footprint. In the following days, tech workers at Microsoft, Facebook, and Google have announced they will also go on strike.

Of the big five tech companies, this leaves Apple employees, who have yet to make any statement on the climate strikes, which will take place in 120 countries. On the day its competitors are striking, Apple will release the iPhone 11. While Apple claims that the iPhone is getting greener, it's still a product that necessarily requires exploiting the Earth, and, in some cases, labor.

While white collar tech workers have grown increasingly militant since early 2018, Apple employees remained out of the spotlight. The company has a mixed record on the environment. In 2018, Apple announced that all its data centers, corporate offices, and retail stores had transitioned to renewable energy, and pledged $300 million to clean up China’s environment. Meanwhile, as previously reported by Motherboard, Apple forces recyclers to shred iPhones and computers into shards—undermining industry-wide sustainable practices. Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The walkouts arrive in a moment when white collar tech workers, from small firms like Kickstarter and Wayfair to tech giants like Amazon and Google, have increasingly taken action to organize and criticize their employers on a range of issues, including sexual harassment, contracts with the military and law enforcement, and sales to migrant detention centers. Tech workers have organized a industry-wide movement called #TechWontBuild it to oppose contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protections (CBP).

On Monday, Facebook workers created a Twitter page called “Facebook Employees for Climate Action” declaring their intention to strike on September 20. Google Workers for Action on Climate Change announced in a tweet on Saturday that at least 400 of company’s employees will join the marches. Amazon and Google workers are demanding that the companies end contracts with oil and gas companies.