Amazon founderThe company had to “do a better job” for its employees and promised to make the e-commerce giant the world’s best employer in his new role as Executive Chairman.
Bezos, who will step down as CEO later this year, wrote in his last letter to shareholders that not only will Amazon be a customer-centric company, but it will also be committed to being “the best employer on earth and the safest place to work on earth ” to be.
“Despite everything we’ve achieved, I know we need a better vision for our people’s success,” wrote Bezos.
The letter comes days after Amazon repulsed historic union work by workers at one of its warehouses in Bessemer, Alabama. Only 30% voted to form a collective bargaining unit, but the union accused Amazon of intimidating workers into not supporting the effort.
Bezos said he was not comforted by the outcome of the recent union vote in Bessemer.
“Although the voting results were one-sided and our direct relationship with the employees is strong, I understand that we need a better one vision how we create value for employees – a vision for their success, “said Bezos.
During union work, some Amazon workers at the Bessemer facility said they were being treated like “prisoners” and were concerned about their job security, safety and wellbeing. The camp staff also expressed concerns about lack of bathroom and lunch breaks, poor performance, and strenuous work hours.
Bezos said Amazon doesn’t care about workers in warehouses and treats them like robots “that aren’t accurate”.
The Retail, Warehouse and Department Store Union (RWDSU), which represents more than 15 million workers and supports the organization of Amazon workers in Bessemer, said the union efforts were “devastating” to Amazon’s reputation.
Stuart Applebaum, president of RWDSU, said Bezos admits the company mistreated workers.
“Bezos’ admission today shows that what we said about working conditions is correct. But his admission won’t change anything, workers need a union – – not just another public relations work by Amazon in the area of damage control, “said Applebaum in a statement.
In the letter, Bezos said he will focus on “new initiatives” that include a deeper dive into security issues in Amazon warehouses. He said roughly 40% of work-related injuries are due to sprains and strains caused by repetitive motion.
Bezos said the company is developing new automated workforce plans that use computer algorithms to move employees between jobs and reduce the risk of injury. He also addressed potential shareholders’ concerns as the company is additionally focused on the success and safety of its employees.
“If we can run two businesses as different as consumer e-commerce and [Amazon Web Services]And if we do both at the highest level, we can certainly do the same with these two vision statements, “said Bezos.” In fact, I am confident that they will be mutually reinforcing. “