Admirers laud the Amazon empire Bezos built, but labour activists and monopoly watchdogs question how he did it.
E-commerce giant Amazon is planning to hire 125,000 more American workers at an average starting wage of more than $18 per hour and up to $22.50 per hour in some locations, the company announced Tuesday.
The 125,000 new jobs encompass full-time and part-time roles in the retail behemoth’s fulfilment and transportation operations, the company said in a press release, and are in addition to 40,000 new corporate and technology job openings Amazon announced earlier this month.
The company has seen record sales as Americans turned to online shopping out of necessity and boredom during the coronavirus pandemic. Amazon reported net income of $21.3bn last year.
Now, more than a year and a half after the first COVID-19 cases were reported in the United States, Amazon’s sales figures show Americans are still clicking “add to cart”. The company reported its net sales increased 27 percent to $113.1bn in the second quarter of 2021, compared to $88.9bn in the second quarter of 2020.
But like many firms in the US, Amazon has seen increased demand for goods bump up against labour constraints. Job openings in the country reached a record high of 10.9 million in July, US Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows, but many of those jobs aren’t being filled.
That’s led many firms to up the ante by offering sign-on bonuses, boosting hourly wages and providing more comprehensive benefits to entice workers.
Amazon announced Tuesday it is offering a $3,000 signing bonus to the latest round of logistics workers it plans to hire.
It isn’t the first time this year the firm has increased wages and offered bonuses in an effort to hire.
In May, Amazon announced it was upping its hourly wage to $17 per hour and hiring 75,000 workers while offering a sign-on bonus of $1,000.
That announcement came a month after Amazon employees at a facility in Bessemer, Alabama voted against joining the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) in a process that was closely watched by labour rights activists and the company itself.
Following the defeat, the RWDSU said it would challenge the results of the Bessemer vote with the US National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), claiming in a press release that Amazon unlawfully interfered “with the protected right of employees to engage in union activity”.
In August, an NLRB official said the Bessemer union vote should be redone, and the board is expected to decide whether it will order another vote soon.