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The Information reports that "Amazon is launching a big recruiting push aimed at teens who are about to graduate high school, in the e-commerce giant’s latest effort to keep its sprawling network of warehouses staffed up in a tight labor market.

"In a hiring drive set to kick off next month, Amazon will attend events at schools across the U.S. and Canada, a person briefed on the matter said. The effort will involve recruiters going to hundreds of high school career days to talk up college tuition benefits and other perks of working at Amazon, the person said … Apart from benefits like healthcare, the stable pay and tertiary education perks are at the center of the pitch for high schoolers going on summer break, the person briefed on the initiative said. Those teens who may not be able to get into college can get employment at a local facility, work over summer at an Amazon facility, and then do a degree or technical training, paid for by Amazon. The person said the recruiting pitch can sometimes be couched as a 'second chance' for some teens who have struggled with high school. The only requirement is that potential new employees must be at least 18 years old."

The story notes that "not having enough workers has already eaten into the company’s bottom line. Amazon said operational disruptions from not being able to staff up its facilities during the 2021 holiday rush, along with inflationary pressures pushing up labor and transportation expenses, cost the company $4 billion in the fourth quarter.

"Ramping up high school recruiting is a natural next step for Amazon, which has hired like no other company during the Covid-19 pandemic as online shopping boomed. It added an astounding 750,000 workers over the last two years, 575,000 of them within the U.S."

The report is ironic, since CNBC also reported yesterday that "Amazon warehouse workers in the U.S. suffered serious injuries at twice the rate of rival companies in 2021, according to a new study.

"There were 6.8 serious injuries for every 100 Amazon warehouse workers. That’s more than twice the rate of all other employers in the warehouse industry, which had 3.3 serious injuries per 100 workers, the Strategic Organizing Center said in a report released Tuesday."

It needs to be pointed out that the Strategic Organizing Center (SOC) is, according to the story, "a coalition of labor unions including the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Service Employees International Union."

The study says that "Amazon reported approximately 38,300 total injuries at its U.S. facilities in 2021, up about 20% from 27,100 injuries in 2020. The vast majority of injuries in 2021 were categorized as serious, or injuries 'where workers were hurt so badly that they were either unable to perform their regular job functions (light duty) or forced to miss work entirely (lost time),' according to the report.

"Amazon was responsible for a 'staggering' amount of worker injuries in the U.S., the report found. In 2021, Amazon accounted for almost half of all injuries in the industry, while making up a third of all U.S. warehouse workers."

CNBC points out that Amazon does not try to deny the numbers:  "Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel pointed to the company’s pandemic-induced hiring spree as one catalyst behind the increase in recordable injuries between 2020 and 2021. Amazon’s recordable injury rate last year dropped roughly 13% compared to 2019, Nantel added.  'While we still have more work to do and won’t be satisfied until we are excellent when it comes to safety, we continue to make measurable improvements in reducing injuries and keeping employees safe, and appreciate the work from all of our employees and safety teams who are contributing to this effort,' Nantel said in a statement."

KC's View:

I find myself wondering about whether, if I had a kid about to graduate high school who was looking at his options, I would recommend this as a possibility.  Not only do I accept the idea that this can be dangerous, high-pressure work, but I also, to be honest, question Amazon's real commitment improving working conditions.

I'm sure they want to make warehouses as safe as possible;  after all, injuries hurt efficiency.  But the company's reaction to unionization efforts make me think that its priorities may not be what I would want them to be.