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Amazon Offers Bonuses in Bid for New Employees

Amazon sales have increased significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic. To prepare for an even busier upcoming holiday season, Amazon seeks to increase its workforce by offering signing bonuses ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 at some of its facilities across the country. Potential employees in California and Illinois receive the highest rates. The company intends to add as many as 100,000 seasonal workers.

Many current Amazon workers believe these bonuses are unfair as seen in social media posts and chat rooms. These posts show that current employees received $15, $20, or $25 Thanksgiving food vouchers while other employees complained they received nothing. Employees expressed frustration at how hard they worked during the pandemic with real risks to their health. According to press reports, Amazon overstaffs its facilities to account for workers who may get sick. Sometimes workers show up for their shifts but are forced to stand around with no space for them to work. Social distancing measures limit the number of employees able to work at the same time.

Media reports suggest Amazon’s bonuses demonstrate the difficulties of hiring during a pandemic. Although unemployment is double its pre-pandemic level, many workers fear being exposed to the virus when they come to work, and some workers are able to live off of the unemployment benefits they still receive. One expert suggested some workers may still be hopeful that their previous employers will rehire them, and they are unwilling to risk COVID exposure that would prevent them from returning to their old jobs. Amazon offers a $15 per hour starting salary for warehouse employees with health and retirement benefits as well as job training opportunities. Amazon workers in Alabama recently filed a petition to form a union, which would be a first in the U.S. for the company.