“Despite what we’ve accomplished, it’s clear to me that we need a better vision for our employees’ success,” Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos wrote in a letter to shareholders Thursday. Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post

SEATTLE — Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos said the e-commerce giant needs to “do a better job for our employees,” his first comments since the company’s lopsided victory over a unionization effort at an Alabama warehouse last week.

In his letter to shareholders, Bezos, who owns The Washington Post, wrote that some news reports of employee complaints about the warehouse workplace during the union campaign were inaccurate. He cited internal surveys of warehouse staffers that found that 94 percent would recommend Amazon to a friend as a place to work.

But he also said Amazon needs to commit to improving employee satisfaction as much as the company focuses on providing customer care.

“Despite what we’ve accomplished, it’s clear to me that we need a better vision for our employees’ success,” Bezos wrote in the letter released Thursday morning.

On Friday, Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer, Ala., rejected unionization in a high-profile battle that drew vast political interest, including a video from President Biden supporting organizing efforts without mentioning Amazon by name. The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) has said it intends to challenge the outcome, objecting to Amazon’s tactics during the campaign. That filing to the National Labor Relations Board could come this week.

Amazon aggressively battled the unionization effort that could have triggered organizing drives at other company facilities. The union said more than 1,000 workers reached out during the campaign to learn about launching campaigns at their warehouses.


Even though the union lost the election, the organizing drive spotlighted Amazon’s shortcomings as an employer, RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum said in a statement.

“Bezos’s admission today demonstrates that what we have been saying about workplace conditions is correct,” Appelbaum said. “But his admission won’t change anything; workers need a union, not just another Amazon public relations effort in damage control.”

During the union drive, workers spoke out about aggressive performance goals, low wages, and an overheated workplace. Amazon rebuffed critics on Twitter, at one point deriding Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., for suggesting that workers routinely urinate in bottles because they cannot take restroom breaks. The company apologized to Pocan a few days later, acknowledging that drivers, including those who deliver packages for other companies, often have trouble finding restrooms.

Bezos wrote that when he relinquishes the chief executive job this summer to become Amazon’s executive chairman, he intends to include making the company “Earth’s Best Employer and Earth’s Safest Place to Work.” He wrote that the company plans to invest more than $300 million this year into safety projects, including $66 million to create technology that will help prevent collisions of forklifts and other industrial vehicles.

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