Quoted: on Amazon paying workers to quit

“Once a year, we offer to pay our associates to quit… The goal is to encourage folks to take a moment and think about what they really want.”

Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO, in this year’s annual letter to shareholders, saying he got the idea from Zappos, the online shoes and clothes retailer Amazon owns. Bezos says “in the long run, an employee staying somewhere they don’t want to be isn’t healthy for the employee or the company.” The offer, which starts at $2,000 the first year and can go up to $5,000, is presented to workers at Amazon’s fulfillment centers. Why those workers? A possible reason: As we’ve written, Amazon has had its share of disgruntled warehouse workers over the years, who have complained and sued about things such as overtime pay and poor working conditions. The company has resisted unionization efforts. Last month, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case brought by employees of a temp firm associated with Amazon. The question: whether workers should be paid for the time they spend to wait for security screenings at the end of their shifts.

The shareholder letter also underscores what a behemoth the online retailer/tech company is, addressing, for example: its recently unveiled streaming device Fire TV; the expansion of its grocery-delivery service; and the Mayday Button, an on-demand tech support service offered on its tablets.

And the delivery drones Bezos talked about on “60 Minutes” a few months ago? “The Prime Air team is already flight testing our 5th and 6th generation aerial vehicles, and we are in the design phase on generations 7 and 8,” the CEO wrote.

 

Photo of an Amazon warehouse by Len Vaughn-Lahman/Mercury News archives

 

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