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Amazon CEO Andy Jassy yesterday penned his first annual shareholder letter since taking over from Jeff Bezos last July, nodding to a Foo Fighters song and addressing topics like the e-comm giant’s rapid growth amid the pandemic and worker safety.
Labor pains: The letter highlighted labor challenges Amazon has faced, particularly after the country’s second-largest employer doubled its fulfillment centers in the last two years and hired 300,000 workers (many of them inexperienced, Jassy noted) in 2021. While a new study this week found US Amazon warehouse workers experienced twice the injury rate of their peers last year, Jassy said these numbers are “sometimes misunderstood.”
- He pointed out that while Amazon’s warehousing incident rates are higher than its peers (6.4 vs. 5.5), rates within the courier and delivery segment are lower (7.6 vs. 9.1).
- Efforts to boost safety, Amazon says, include improved shoes for better protection and wearables that warn them when they’re making “dangerous movements.”
The letter didn’t address Staten Island Amazon workers’ vote to unionize earlier this month, which Amazon has appealed. But the topic did come up when Jassy spoke to CNBC yesterday. Cue the not-so-surprising comments. Jassy recognized that joining a union is an employee’s choice, but stated, “we happen to think they’re better off not doing so,” citing swifter change implementation and more direct connections with managers.
At all costs: Though Amazon added a 5% fuel and inflation surcharge to third-party sellers earlier this week, Jassy told the outlet it will “keep looking at how costs evolve and revisit.”
- He said raising costs for sellers was “the last thing we ever want to do,” but Amazon has found that it can’t absorb costs like it did early in the pandemic and continue to run “a business that’s economic.”
+1: Bad news for Bitcoin bros: Despite previously expressing interest in cryptocurrency, Amazon is “not probably close” to accepting it as payment, Jassy told CNBC. Selling NFTs, though, is “possible down the road on the platform.”
+2: For those curious, Jassy admitted he doesn’t own Bitcoin himself.—EC