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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos rebuffs warehouse security considerations: ‘We have taken this critically from the start’

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Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos addresses the viewers throughout a keynote session on the Amazon Re:MARS convention on robotics and synthetic intelligence on the Aria Resort in Las Vegas on June 6, 2019.

Mark Ralston | AFP | Getty Photos

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos defended the corporate’s response to the coronavirus disaster at its annual shareholder assembly on Wednesday. 

Shareholders pressed Bezos and different Amazon executives for solutions on the corporate’s therapy of warehouse staff, the potential for fallout from enhanced scrutiny of Amazon and for updates on its progress round points associated to the surroundings and pay fairness.

There have been no shareholder resolutions on the docket that handled warehouse working circumstances. Nonetheless, the subject was a recurring theme amongst shareholders who introduced proposals and submitted inquiries to Bezos, in addition to in Amazon’s personal ready remarks in the course of the digital assembly, illustrating that it stays high of thoughts for folks inside and outdoors of the corporate.   

Bezos started his tackle to shareholders on the digital assembly by thanking Amazon’s frontline warehouse and supply staff, saying they’ve supplied a “lifeline” to clients who’ve been caught at house.

“I’m deeply grateful for every of you for the essential work you’re doing for patrons,” Bezos mentioned.

Warehouse staff, labor advocacy teams and legislators have repeatedly criticized Amazon’s response to the coronavirus, arguing the corporate moved too slowly in its efforts to offer private safety tools, temperature checks and different instruments to maintain staff secure. 

Bezos pushed again on these accusations, saying Amazon shortly realized the necessity to defend staff in the course of the pandemic. He lauded Amazon’s senior management and its board, saying “they’ve finished a outstanding job.” 

“I am happy with the job the crew has finished there,” Bezos mentioned. “We have taken this critically from the very starting.” 

Bezos added that Amazon has modified how work is performed inside warehouses to gradual the unfold of the coronavirus and is now “within the course of” of building its own testing laboratories, with the hopes of administering exams to warehouse staff throughout the nation.

Amazon repeated this message all through the assembly because it confirmed a set of movies of warehouse and supply staff, clad in face masks, who touted the expanded security measures at their amenities. One employee mentioned their job was like “strolling into the chocolate manufacturing facility and also you gained the golden ticket,” whereas one other employee mentioned they appreciated that Amazon “went overboard on security.”

The corporate’s efforts to spotlight its security measures confronted some criticism from shareholders in the course of the assembly, together with Maren Costa, a former Amazon consumer expertise designer and member of Amazon Workers for Local weather Justice (AECJ). In April, Amazon fired Costa and Emily Cunningham, additionally a consumer expertise designer, from the corporate for breaking firm guidelines. 

Costa referred to the resignation of Amazon vice president Tim Bray and the latest firings, which additionally included a number of protesters, as proof of a “vein of toxicity that runs via the corporate.” Costa final week took half in an “alternative” shareholder meeting with Amazon traders who referred to as for Amazon to reveal the outcomes of its investments in coronavirus-related efforts. 

Through the Q&A session, Bezos disputed claims that Amazon fired staff for talking out towards its labor practices and mentioned Amazon “welcomes” continued scrutiny of the corporate.

Bezos: We ‘dramatically undercharge’ for Prime

Bezos additionally touched on Amazon’s progress executing its complete climate change plan and the worth of its Prime subscription service. 

When requested if Prime has develop into too costly, Bezos countered by saying Amazon’s technique is to “dramatically undercharge” for the service. 

“Our technique is to construct worth prematurely with Prime,” Bezos mentioned. “We all the time need Prime to be far more worthwhile than what we cost for it.”

The subscription service has more and more attracted consideration from antitrust regulators just like the Federal Commerce Fee, which has questioned whether or not it harms Amazon’s opponents by bundling a number of worthwhile companies into one package deal. Prime subscribers pay $119 a yr, or $12.99 per 30 days, without spending a dime, two-day transport on orders and entry to Prime Video, amongst different perks. 

Amazon additionally faces a number of different ongoing antitrust probes. The corporate is being investigated by FTC officers over its enterprise practices in retail and cloud computing, in line with experiences from several outlets. The Division of Justice and the Home Judiciary Committee have each opened broad antitrust opinions of Massive Tech.

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