DIESEL DEATH ZONES IN THE AMAZON EMPIRE: ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE IN ALGORITHMICALLY MEDIATED WORK
Keywords:environmental justice, tech industry activism, platform infrastructure, Amazon, tech for climate
This paper explores and contextualizes recent activism in 2019-2020 around Amazon’s San Bernardino airport warehouse expansion. While California has become a nexus for US debates on the rights of gig labour and tech workers, this coalition focused particularly on intersections of worker rights and environmental justice. The highly polluting air cargo centre, they argued, would worsen air quality and constitute environmental racism in the predominantly Hispanic, working-class San Bernardino. This coalition used creative tactics and data practices informed by place-specific histories of economic and environmental activism, to re-imagine algorithmically mediated work and link it to ongoing struggles. Analyzing primary materials and media coverage of this diverse coalition, we find a strategy unified around economic justice, environmental justice, and community benefits. This case study contributes a framework for worker-centric, site-specific analyses of internet technologies and sustainability. By exploring this intersection, we hope to provide insight into building more equitable internet infrastructures and designing technological systems in solidarity with affected communities, workers, and environments.