By Alex P. Vidal
“Never get married in college; it’s hard to get a start if a prospective employer finds you’ve already made one mistake.” —Elbert Hubbard
UNTIL recently, I kept on receiving invitations through email and calls/text messages to work part time in Amazon; I have been asked “to report for interview” in Staten Island, NY and “earn up to $20.65/hour” as Amazon Warehouse Worker.
I have been offered “a $100 bonus with proof of Covid-19 vaccination” for a job as Warehouse Team Member in Chelsea, NY.
“Up to $3,000 sign on bonus” has been dangled for me to work as Amazon Warehouse Attendant. And so on and so forth.
We lost our jobs when New York locked down in March 2020, the start of pandemic’s harrowing incursion all over the globe.
New Yorkers, as well as other residents in other states, had to rely on unemployment benefits from the Department of Labor (from $600 to $1,200/week for more than a year, at least).
How “sweet” it is to be in the United States during the pandemic, declared one undocumented Pinoy immigrant, who brought home a whooping one-time payment of $15,600 from the $2.1 billion state budget intended for all undocumented workers in New York affected by Covid-19.
In July 2021, when New York started to go back to the mainstream after a nearly two-year hiatus from economic and employment activities, my plan was originally to work at Amazon; I was attracted by its salary package—and there was plenty of openings. Amazon jobs are arguably among the best in the post-pandemic period.
But after landing a post-pandemic job in Manhattan, I held the Amazon quest in abeyance.
However, Jeff Bezos’ multinational technology company that focuses on e-commerce, cloud computing, online advertising, digital streaming, and artificial intelligence, didn’t stop wooing me, modesty aside.
I stuck to my Manhattan employment but didn’t shut the door on the possibility of accepting the company’s offer for a part time.
Until I received the news November 17 that Amazon was planning to lay off thousands of employees and the job cuts and buy outs will extend in 2023.
With this development, Amazon now becomes my ex future employer.
Amazon CEO, Andy Jassy wrote in a post on November 17 that the job reductions were a part of the company’s annual operating planning review.
Jassy explained that this year’s review was complicated by the “challenging spot” the economy is in, coupled with the fact that Amazon rapidly hired employees in recent years.
According to CNBC, the e-commerce giant offered “voluntary severance” packages on November 15 and 16 as it continued to enact substantial layoffs across the company, according to CNBC.
Human resources and employee services were reportedly among the divisions that received the buyout offers.
While Amazon’s third-quarter earnings saw improvement over earlier in 2022, overall profits were below expectations. As a result, Amazon had been cutting back in a number of areas even before this week’s layoffs and buyouts, wrote Sara Lord and Nina Raemont of cnet.
In the past few months, Jassy halted testing on Amazon Scout, the company’s robot home delivery initiative. He’s also shuttered the Amazon Care tele-health and nursing service, as well as Fabric.com, a long-time online fabric retailer.
The cuts, along with high attrition, reduced the headcount at the company by approximately 80,000 between April and September, according to the Times. Amazon imposed a hiring freeze for small teams in September, followed by a corporate-wide freeze earlier this month.
The layoffs at Amazon reflect the turbulence facing the tech industry. Twitter, Microsoft, Meta and Google also have let go of workers in recent months.
Amazon will provide employees who voluntarily leave the company with a severance payment equal to three months of pay, along with one week of salary for every six months of tenure, CNBC reported citing internal documents.
The news of buyouts comes amid massive layoffs that the company confirmed in a blog post November 16, after days of rumors about job cuts.
“We notified impacted employees yesterday, and will continue to work closely with each individual to provide support, including assisting in finding new roles,” Dave Limp, Amazon’s senior vice president of devices and services, said in the post.
“In cases where employees cannot find a new role within the company, we will support the transition with a package that includes a separation payment, transitional benefits, and external job placement support.”
Amazon didn’t say how many jobs have been cut, but The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal have reported that the cuts affect around 10,000 corporate employees—not warehouse workers—during its busiest time of the year.
If that number is accurate, the Times noted that this would be the largest layoff in the company’s history.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo.—Ed)