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Unionized Workers Have a Less Direct Relationship With Managers, Amazon’s CEO Believes

At a time when Starbucks baristas are unionizing in the U.S., one of the biggest private-sector employers, Amazon, still sees unions as a stumbling block

Andy Jassy, chief executive officer of Amazon, speaks during the Bloomberg Technology Summit in San Francisco, California, on Wednesday, June 8, 2022.
June 16, 2022 | 09:15 am

San Francisco — Amazon’s (AMZN) CEO Andy Jassy says it’s much harder for unionizing workers to have direct relationships with managers. Amazon is one of the biggest U.S.-based private sector employers and amid the pandemic has seen its warehouse workers unionizing, a movement that Starbucks (SBUX) workers in the country have now joined.

Employees get to choose to unionize or not. We think they are better without unions because they can have a faster relationship with their manager,” said Jassy at the Bloomberg Tech Summit in San Francisco last week. “If you see something down the line, you can’t go directly to the manager to ask for changes when there is a union feedback filter. We’d much rather hear from every employee what’s on their mind,” he said.

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Jassy, who had Jeff Bezos as his boss for more than two decades, now has been CEO for nearly one year at the e-commerce giant. “Jeff always is going to be involved”, he said. “We have a close relationship, we share the same values about customers, and we still talk all the time”.

Amazon recently lost its executive Dave Clark, former VP of worldwide operations, who left the company after more than two decades to become the new CEO of a supply chain startup. “Different people want to do different jobs. He wanted a different gig,” according to Jassy.

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However, Jassy has not been facing the most tranquil period in which to run the company, as Amazon’s stock has been falling significantly since its peak last year. “I never tried to predict stocks. You can’t really control that. In this type of circumstances you have to focus on what customers care about”, he said, before quoting Foo Fighters’ song ‘Congregation’. “I do have blind faith, but I don’t have false hope.”

While inflation drives Amazon’s costs up, Jassy says that amid the downturns customers change their purchasing habits, selecting more carefully when and who they are buying from.

“They buy from whom they have a better user experience. In downturns, we have so many things we can do better for customers,” he said.

Prime users

While Netflix is announcing layoffs, Amazon’s CEO says he is bullish about streaming and investments for Prime video. “We are also excited about what we’re doing with MGM”, he said.

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Prime Video is one of the features provided to Prime subscribers. Amazon will hold its Prime Day, a two-day sales event, on July 12 and 13, with offers for Prime members from 24 countries, including Brazil - which will be included in the third edition of the event - and Mexico.

This is the first time that the event will be held in Poland and Sweden. Later this month, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and India will also have their first Prime Day.