Stock Groups

Amazon CEO Andy Jassy says the company could treat workers better


Andy Jassy (CEO Amazon Web Services) speaks at the WSJD Live Conference in Laguna Beach California, October 25, 2016.

Mike Blake | Reuters

AmazonAndy Jassy, CEO of the company, stated Tuesday that the company can do more for employees and admitted to one failure in its approach to worker safety during coronavirus pandemic.

“I think if you have a large group of people like we do — we have 1.2 million employees — it’s almost like a small country,” Jassy said on stage at the GeekWire Summit in Seattle. You can always do more.

Jassy was asked to name the best thing Amazon could have done. He pointed out Amazon’s handling of pandemic leaves in its warehouses. Amazon toldWorkers it could provide two weeks’ paid sick leave to employees with symptoms or who are in quarantine.

However, this process didn’t work as planned. Amazon employees told CNBCThey had issues receiving their wages while on holiday in April. In addition, Covid-19 requests caused the highly-automated human resources system to become so full that many employees were wrongly denied sick or threatened with being terminated. Bloomberg reported.

Jassy stated that during the pandemic at our fulfillment centers we developed a system for people to be able request short- and long-term leave. However, the process didn’t scale. We never expected to have a pandemic, or experience such high demand. “It didn’t go the way we wanted.”

Amazon and other ecommerce firms benefited from the coronavirus-driven surge in online order. Amazon also suffered unprecedented logistics and fulfillment problems due to the pandemic. This affected the relationship between the frontline employees and Amazon. Amazon disclosed last OctoberNearly 20,000 Front-Line Workers contracted Covid-19 from March 1, 2020 to Sept. 19, 2020.

Amazon delivery and warehouse workers began to push for improved working conditions after the coronavirus pandemic. This led to organizing efforts and protests. Jeff Bezos was the Amazon CEO and executive chairman in the few months prior to his resignation. outlined a visionfor making it “Earth’s most employer”, and pledging to better treat employees.

Jassy stated, “We don’t pretend to be perfect.” Sometimes I believe there are anecdotal and exaggerated references that don’t reflect the entire picture. We can still work on many other things and we’ll continue working on them.”

Jassy indicated that he was interested in improving Amazon’s relationships with Seattle. Amazon animosity among Seattle lawmakers in 2018They passed the so-called “headtax”, which aimed at imposing higher taxes on large businesses. Lawmakers ultimately scuttled the taxHowever, it did not do much to improve the relationship between Amazon and the city.

I think that our relationship with Seattle was not without its ups and downs. Jassy noted that she thought the 20-ish first years were a good time for collaboration. “I would say that the city council is less interested in Amazon or business the past five years. It’s been more difficult.”

Amazon has been expanding its reach outside Seattle over the past few years. Amazon has set up shop in Bellevue, a suburb of Seattle. It also leased space in Redmond (Washington), where it had been based for many years.

“HQ1 is no longer Seattle. Jassy stated that we really see it as Puget Sound. We have many people in Seattle but also a lot in Bellevue, which is where we will see the most growth.

WATCH: California Gov. Newsom signs bill bolstering warehouse worker protections

Mike Robinson
Mike covers the financial, utilities and biotechnology sectors for Street Register. He has been writing about investment and personal finance topics for almost 12 years. Mike has an MBA in Finance from Wake Forest University.