Amazon churns through its entire workforce once or twice a year (video)

If the 10,000-word expose in Tuesday’s New York Times was tl;dr, Rachel Maddow will tell you the story in 5:40 minutes.

My take: Maddow is an acquired taste, but I found her Amazon report valuable enough to recommend it. I’d hate to see Apple in her crosshairs.

14 Comments

  1. Gregg Thurman said:
    Bezos, the ultimate exploiter of the working man.

    1
    June 16, 2021
  2. Jerry Doyle said:
    Like so much media reporting these days there is some merit in what Ms. Rachel Maddox presents along with negative bias and disconnect with reality. A company with massive employee dissatisfaction & disruption in staff turnover doesn’t become wildly successful over decades while continuing to grow into one of the largest on the planet. Amazon is doing something right with the vast majority of its employees to sustain its successful growth trajectory & continued success. Any HR executive will tell you that staff turnover for a company is costly & nonproductive. I suspect most of these turnovers are in job positions designed for staff migration. Little doubt there is as we know, large numbers of seasonal workers Amazon taps & large numbers of workers who come to Amazon to work not as a career, but for shorter periods of duration before moving on to other jobs or vocational careers.

    4
    June 16, 2021
    • Peter Kropf said:
      Hi Jerry,

      Most of the criticism of Amazon in the NYT is aimed at a demonstrably broken, no – wacko, human resources system.

      I don’t believe you’ve read it. Give it a chance.

      0
      June 16, 2021
      • Jerry Doyle said:
        @Peter Kropf: I read it brother Peter. I am a “prolific” reader. I read all the attachments when they are accessible. I read the entire article and gave it careful deliberation. I also understand fully the source (NYT) providing the information. Reflecting on the source of the study also was a matter I weighed and took into account when formulating my opinion on the subject. Same source that often knowingly denigrates Apple disingenuously.

        0
        June 16, 2021
  3. Romeo A Esparrago Jr said:
    tl;dr = too long; didn’t read

    Not keeping up so I had to DuckDuckGo that.

    4
    June 16, 2021
  4. David Emery said:
    A friend went to work for one of Amazon’s tech concerns working on Kindle. He lasted about a year. (He’s now with Apple.)

    2
    June 16, 2021
  5. Steven Philips said:
    Working at McDonalds used to be considered an after school/temp level job. Not a career Amazon will pursue a high turnover practice where warehouse workers burn out – but sort of expect to burn out (I think) for the pay and benefits they get relative to other options – until the other options appear better and Amazon has to change its approach to get the workers it needs. Or automates them.

    4
    June 16, 2021
    • Rick Povich said:
      Steven Philips said, “… Amazon has to change its approach to get the workers it needs. Or automates them.”

      I would bet that Amazon is working on that exact process.

      2
      June 16, 2021
  6. Kirk DeBernardi said:
    I just retired from a 17-year stint as a produce grocery worker at Safeway in the San Francisco Bay Area.

    One certain fact that I can attest to over those 17 years, especially after Safeway merged with Albertson’s (owned by Cerberus Capital Management, L.P. — an American private equity firm specializing in distressed investing) is that the squeeze on labor hours relative to the work to be done is at a point of sad ridiculousness.

    My entire department of skilled and tenured workers with double-digit years of employment want to quit as a result. I know, it sounds like an exaggeration, but it’s not. Even middle management feels their hands are tied with the demands placed on them to spread thin the labor hours allotted to simply get the job done. (Told to me straight from the “horse’s mouth” recently as we discussed my retiring.)

    Sure, it’s easy to throw out pissy comments about your employer, especially working at today’s retailers, but I’m making a sober and objective observation here.

    When I told my Produce Manager of my intent to retire, I mentioned one of the cardinal reasons that bolstered my decision. Looking her straight in the eye I claimed, “This isn’t going to get any better.” She could only look back at me in sadly-silent agreement — and she’s been with them for over 35 years.

    Looks like Bezo’s has singlehandedly set the new grunt-labor paradigm.

    6
    June 16, 2021
    • Bart Yee said:
      @Kirk Congratulations on your retirement! Hoping you find bigger and better in your next chapter.

      Your story is exactly what corporate and business owner America has been doing for 150 years, building their businesses on the backs of workers who are paid as little as they can get away with, discarded as quickly as they can be replaced with cheaper, and given more work for same or less pay as they “right (for their ledger) size” their workforce. I have no doubts that if there was a way to replace American workers in the US with as-skilled foreign workers who would accept less, they all would.

      2
      June 16, 2021
    • Bob Goldstein said:
      Kirk, my experience is similar. I worked for SF. Chronicle for 31 years as a union worker. In 2007 they tried to force a showdown with the workers and force a strike that they knew the union workers would lose. All the unions agreed to keep working so to get out of the union contracts they sold the entire production division to a Canadian company. The Chronicle loaned them the money to build a new printing facility close to Fremont. I think three thousand plus employees lost their jobs. I got a small buyout package and retired at 57. I knew I was ok and didn’t have to work because of my shares in Apple stock. It worked out well for me but it was devastating to a lot of people

      1
      June 16, 2021
  7. Kirk DeBernardi said:
    Thanks so much for the good wishes Bart. I appreciate that.

    Bob G. — At 62+ I have chosen to get out early. Taking my SS too. Like you, I’m one of the lucky few who can for that very same reason and I plan on being eternally grateful for the option.

    But most of my coworkers aren’t as fortunate. I felt I was deserting a hurt bunch that would continue to suffer the slow, drawn-out squeeze of omnipresent corporate neglect-by-design.

    The true and effective commonwealth attitude has been left for dead and needs revival.

    After all, it’s just a good business sense.

    0
    June 16, 2021
    • Bob Goldstein said:
      Best of luck with your retirement. It’s a shame that the job turned so bad for the workers. Makes me think twice about shopping at Safeway

      0
      June 16, 2021
      • Bart Yee said:
        @Bob It isn’t necessarily Safeway/Albertsons itself (at least the long timers) but their corporate capital buyer/takeover overlords. In any private buyout of distressed industries, they vow a turnaround (er, maximize profits), seeing value hidden in the company – the value they can create by (“making the tough choices previous management would not”) cutting the highest costs, the employees / people and their salaries and benefits, cutting their numbers, making who is left so more, and also trying to drive out the best paid, longest tenure, and usually the most skilled, knowledgable, and best customer service/facing employees. All the while paying big bucks to the new management, siphoning off profits to the Capital group investors, and reducing expenses right and left. Oh, and of course, raising prices to consumers. At Albertsons, A can of Progresso soup sells regularly for $4.50, on sale for $2.25-3.00, and occasionally with maker help, down to $0.99-1.25 / buy at least 5 as a loss leader. Walmart sells the same can for $1.68 every day of the week.

        New Management is always sure that the (any) business is so simple they can hire practically anyone to just step in and take over those jobs with double the responsibilities.

        Happened with Harman International when Sidney Harman died, JBL, one of its longtime American companies was gutted, 90% of production moved offshore or Mexico, support for legacy products terminated, and long time designers and engineers terminated to be replaced with younger computer driven designers with little ear for sound and music.

        1
        June 16, 2021

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