A 19-year-old fast food boss on $50,000 a year gives his 4 biggest takeaways from his first 7 months of management

Fast-food boss Jason Cabrera sits at a long wooden table wearing a black shirt and smiles.
Jason Cabrera, 19, told Insider his four biggest takeaways from his first seven months managing a restaurant.

  • Jason Cabrera, 19, is the general manager of a Layne’s Chicken Fingers in Texas, earning $50,000.
  • He started out buttering toast for $9.25 an hour three years ago and now manages 22 people.
  • Cabrera told Insider his four biggest takeaways from his first seven months in the job.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A 19-year-old manager of a chicken restaurant earning $50,000 a year told Insider what he’s learnt in his first seven months on the job.

Jason Cabrera, general manager of the Allen, Texas branch of Layne’s Chicken Fingers, started out buttering toast for $9.25-an-hour at the restaurant in late 2018, and now manages 22 people.

Garrett Reed, the CEO of Layne’s, told Insider in a separate interview that he would “usually have at least a handful of seasoned managers, people in their late 20s, early 30s.” However, he promoted three teenagers to general manager roles in recent months as the industry-wide labor shortage meant few experienced workers had applied.

Cabrera told Insider his four biggest takeaways from his first seven months:

He embraces his responsibility: “Anything that happens inside of that store is on me.”

When Cabrera accepted the job in January – one week after his 19th birthday – he said that he took on a raft of new responsibilities, including calculating labor costs, dealing with suppliers, and managing up to eight employees per shift.

“Just knowing that anything that happens inside of that store is on me. Anything that goes wrong, anything that goes right, it all comes back to me,” he said.

Cabrera said his role forced him to mature quickly.

“When I started working I was still a young kid that liked to have fun,” he said. “That was the problem. I had too much fun but I guess as I started getting into the role and whatnot, I matured so quickly without really noticing.”

Read more: The labor shortage has come for bank branches, forcing America’s banking giants to rethink how to stay competitive

Cabrera focuses on providing excellent customer service – and demands the same from his staff.

Cabrera said a big part of his job is devoted to keeping customers happy, and he looks forward to every Tuesday when Layne’s offers discounts, as he usually interacts with more guests.

“I really love seeing our parking lot filled with a bunch of cars,” he said.

And he demands the same attitude from his workers: “Every time I bring it up to someone I’m hiring, I let them know: ‘Hey, I care this much about guest service. You need to care this much as well if you’re coming into this job.'”

Two men stand behind the counter at a fast food restaurant smiling at the camera with their arms around each other.
Jason Cabrera, left, is general manager of Layne’s Chicken Fingers restaurant in Allen, Texas. Garrett Reed, right, is CEO of the chain.

He prefers to hire people into their first jobs

Cabrera said that he was “huge on recruitment” and prefers to hire people for whom it’s their first job. This is because it is easier to train them in Laynes’ way of doing things.

“I think it’s a really good thing to get those people in because it’s their first job and you can kind of build them up to be great,” he said.

Indeed, all of his team are aged between 16 and 21 but their relative youth has not led to a drop in Cabrera’s standards, which include providing top-tier service and working with a sense of urgency.

“I make sure when I do my interviews and whatnot, people know that I have high standards,” he said.

Cabrera’s biggest problem is finding enough workers

Cabrera said that, so far, he hasn’t dealt with any major problems in the job, except one – finding enough workers.

He told Insider he expects to lose half of his staff in the next few weeks as they go off to college, and checks hiring service Career Plug on a daily basis.

“I always refresh that page every day. I’m always looking for someone and there’s days I won’t get any. There’s days I’ll get five,” he said.

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Chattanooga, Tennessee halts its recycling pickup due to a shortage in pickup drivers

recycling
  • Residents in Chattanooga, Tennessee, will have to live without a recycling pickup service for now, the city tweeted.
  • Recycling collection will resume once the city can fill 32 open positions for recycling pickup drivers.
  • Competitive rates, employee retention, and ongoing COVID-19 issues are compounding the employee shortage.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The city government of Chattanooga, Tennessee, will be stopping curbside recycling pickup starting July 30 due to employee shortages.

The recycling collection service will be suspended until the city is able to fill 32 open commercial driver positions, it said Thursday on Twitter. City officials are recommending residents personally deliver their recycling to Chattanooga’s recycling drop-off centers.

“This was a difficult decision,” the city said in the tweet, also citing low employee retention and hiring challengesas factor creating an “untenable” curbside recycling effort. The disparity in competitive rates from private sector recycling pickups adds to the difficulty in finding dedicated employees.

The starting pay for CDL (commercial driver’s license) truck drivers is $29,865 – 118% less than the starting pay for drivers recruited by local pickup companies, according to a presentation the mayor’s office made to the Chattanooga city council earlier this week.

The office also presented data that most qualified job candidates are turning down these vacant municipal positions, some of which have been unfilled for more than two years, because of the pay. The city is then forced to hire less-qualified applicants who require more training and manager supervision worker.

“The impact to recycling due to our driver shortage illustrates one of Chattanooga’s most acute problems,” said City of Chattanooga’s Chief of Staff Brent Goldberg. “Pay for city employees is far below the market rate, a problem our budget will address when we present it to [Chattanooga’s] City Council in August.”

A wave of employee retirements, resignations, and COVID-19 illness may contribute to further public work disruptions, according to city spokesman Ellis Smith.

“In spite of supervisors filling in on a regular basis, garbage and brush pick-up could also be impacted if the driver shortage continues to grow worse,” Smith said.

The tweet also linked to an external top application page where people can apply for one of the open pickup driver positions. Applicants will need to have a commercial driver’s license to apply.

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The CDC’s new mask guidelines fail to protect retail workers, a leading union says, as it calls for a national mask mandate in all stores

Grocery store worker, low-wage
“A national mask mandate is the only way we can finally take control of this virus,’ UFCW said.

  • A leading retail union in the US is calling for masks to be mandatory again as COVID-19 cases soar.
  • The UFCW represents 1.3 million retail workers.
  • New CDC recommendations for masks in high-risk areas don’t go far enough, the UFCW said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The CDC changed its guidance around wearing masks on Tuesday, recommending that everyone wears masks indoors – whether they have been vaccinated or not – in areas of the country where COVID-19 cases are soaring.

But one of the US’ leading retail unions says the new guidelines don’t do enough to protect store workers, and say masks should be mandatory again.

“A national mask mandate is the only way we can finally take control of this virus and every retail CEO in the country must recognize that now is the time for all of us to mask up so we can keep our economy open and communities safe,” UFCW international president Marc Perrone said in a statement shared with Insider.

Insider asked leading retailers in the US including Costco, Target, Walmart, Best Buy, and Home Depot whether they were updating their mask policies, but did not immediately hear back.

The UFCW represents 1.3 million retail workers in the US. It said that 878 of its members had died of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

Mandatory masks would help prevent workers from playing “vaccination police,” enforcing different rules in different states, he said.

“Urgent action is needed from states and retailers to strengthen COVID safety enforcement so the burden doesn’t fall on the shoulders or essential workers already stretched thin,” he said.

While some workers are happy to be rid of masks, others fear that fewer masked customers puts them at greater risk of infection.

In May, a Starbucks worker told Insider’s Mary Meisenzahl that she was considering leaving her job after the CDC announced that mask mandates would be lifted.

Larry Barton, a professor of crisis management and public safety at the University of Central Florida, told Insider in

If you have a story to share please contact this reporter at mhanbury@businessinsider.com or via encrypted messaging app Signal at +1 (646) 768-4716 using a non-work phone.

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A server says she’s getting lousy tips because she keeps having to do other people’s jobs in the labor shortage

server at a restaurant in California
A server clears a table as patrons dine outdoors at Gloria’s Cocina Mexicana restaurant in California on Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020.

  • One restaurant worker says the labor crunch is killing her tips.
  • The lack of staff means she’s unable to give good service to customers, she said.
  • “Servers have been called to work on the food line, to prep salads, to wash dishes,” she said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

One restaurant worker says the labor crunch is killing tips for servers.

In an interview with CNN, 58-year-old server Karen McLaughlin, who works at Provino’s Italian restaurant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, said that the lack of staff meant servers were stretched, which means customers get worse service and therefore pay lower tips.

On some days “we have to take the orders, run our own food [and] bus all of our tables … Servers have been called to work on the food line, to prep salads, to wash dishes,” she told CNN.

“We come in and just have to fill the holes. If you’re having to do other things … then you make less,” she said.

Retail and restaurant businesses across the US are scrambling to find workers in a tight labor market as workers quit to look for higher-paying jobs with better working conditions.

Job openings across the US have reached record highs, and some businesses are having to temporarily close because they can’t find enough staff.

Those who don’t quit have to pick up the slack.

Another restaurant server told CNN that some of his coworkers have walked out in the middle of their shifts.

“[Hostesses who] seat the tables, the dishwashers, the bussers … they’ll walk out,” 36-year-old Joshuah Morton, who works at Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, told CNN. This made him consider quitting himself, he said.

“I don’t think there’s any server who hasn’t been tempted to quit … especially right now,” he told CNN.

According to a recent survey from non-profit One Fair Wage, which advocates for higher wages for restaurant workers in the US, the majority of restaurant workers who have recently quit cited low wages and low tips.

If you are a retail worker or business with a story to share please contact this reporter at mhanbury@insider.com.

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A 19-year-old fast food boss says he expects to lose half his staff in the next few weeks, as the labor shortage continues to hammer restaurants

A fast food restaurant manager wears a black t-shirt and baseball cap while sitting at a high table.
Cabrera said that he has matured quickly since taking on the general manager role.

  • Jason Cabrera, 19, is the general manager of Layne’s Chicken Fingers in Texas, earning $50,000 a year.
  • Cabrera said that his biggest problem is finding enough workers in the labor shortage.
  • He expects to lose 11 members of staff in the next few weeks as they go off to college, he said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A 19-year-old manager of a Texas chicken restaurant told Insider that he expects to lose half of his staff in the next few weeks.

Jason Cabrera runs the Allen, Texas, branch of the Layne’s Chicken Fingers restaurant chain, which promoted teenagers to management roles because of a severe staff shortage. Cabrera, who earns a $50,000 salary, estimates that he’ll need to replace 11 of his 22 junior employees in the coming weeks, with many going off to college out of state.

The labor shortage was the biggest challenge he faces as the restaurant manager, he said.

Garrett Reed, CEO of Layne’s, told Insider in a separate interview that he would “usually have at least a handful of seasoned managers, people in their late-20s, early-30s” running his eight restaurants, but the labor shortage led him to promote three workers who are 18 or 19 to manager roles, including Cabrera.

Reed has found it “tough to compete” with places like Walmart and McDonalds, which can afford to offer higher wages, and many of his workers have left to join bigger companies, he said.

Read more: Leaked documents show how McDonald’s plans to win the 2021 chicken-sandwich wars. Here’s everything we know about the looming fast-food battle.

Cabrera took on the role a week after his 19th birthday in January.

He told Insider that he’s “huge on recruitment” and uses hiring service CareerPlug to find workers.

“I always refresh that page every day,” he said.

“I’m always looking for someone and there’s days I won’t get any, there’s days I’ll get five.”

In recent months, restaurants have struggled to find enough workers to keep up with customer demand, leading some owners to hike wages and offer large sign-on bonuses to entice employees.

Hiring appears to be picking up: Food services and drinking places added 194,000 jobs in June, accounting for more than half of all job gains in leisure and hospitality industries that month, per Labor Department data. However, three in four independent restaurants are still struggling for workers, according to a recent poll.

A fast food worker prepares fries for the deep fat frier in the restaurant kitchen.
Jason Cabrera told Insider that he expects to lose 11 members of staff in the next few weeks as they go off to college.

Cabrera insists a lack of staff has not led to a drop in standards. “I make sure when I do my interviews and whatnot, people know that I have high standards,” Cabrera told Insider. He said that he looks for staff who care about the quality of service, and work with urgency.

Cabrera’s annual earnings are far above the $9.50 per hour “learning wage” that Reed said his entry-level employees receive, and the $28,860 per year the average 16 to 19-year-old can expect to make in the US, per Labor Department data.

His salary doesn’t include any performance-linked bonuses general managers might receive at the end of the year.

Cabrera said that he has struggled in past jobs to be taken seriously due to his young age, but has embraced the responsibilities of his new role.

“Just knowing that anything that happens inside of that store is on me,” he said. “Anything that goes wrong, anything that goes right, it all comes back to me.”

Cabrera told Insider that he’s saving up so he can open his own Layne’s franchise. “I just want to see how fast I can get there,” he said.

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A California taco restaurant posted a sign blaming government handouts for slow service and a staff shortage

A "help wanted" sign in a restaurant window
A “Help Wanted” sign hangs in the window of a restaurant in a Manhattan restaurant.

  • A California taco restaurant blamed a staff shortage and slow service on “state handouts.”
  • Some businesses are blaming workers and government handouts for the labor shortage.
  • Others say the solution is simply to pay workers more.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A taqueria in California posted a sign in its window blaming government handouts for a staff shortage, and asked customers to be patient with slow service.

“Sadly, due to government and state handouts no one wants to work anymore. Therefore, we are short-staffed,” the sign at Taco Loco restaurant in Folsom, California said, per CBS Sacramento.

“Please be patient with our staff that did choose to come to work today.”

Insider reached out to the restaurant for comment but didn’t immediately hear back.

Since the beginning of the year, unemployed workers in the US have been able to claim $300 a week in benefits as part of a COVID-19 relief package. While some states have since cut this, California said it would continue to offer unemployment benefits through September 4.

Signs of this sort have become more common across the US. Business owners grappling with an ongoing labor shortage are starting to blame worker “laziness,” or government handouts, for these employment gaps. Insider’s Aine Cain saw this firsthand when she took a trip across the East Coast.

The labor shortage has reached crisis point in the US. Job openings rose to a record high of 9.3 million in April, according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey – and business owners are scrambling to fill the gaps.

Read more: Experts say these 7 retail tech companies are set to boom as the labor shortage forces retailers to automate and innovate their way out of a crisis

The pandemic has given some workers time to reflect and consider new careers. Others are “rage quitting” in the hunt for better jobs with higher pay and better working conditions.

But workers say there’s one easy way to fix this crisis: pay us more.

Michael Lastoria, CEO of &pizza restaurant chain, told Insider’s Zahra Tayeb that his 51 locations were fully staffed, and the secret to his success was paying workers proper wages. He offers a $16-an-hour wage, plus benefits.

“The idea that wages couldn’t possibly rise even once over the past 12 years while prices went up, while inflation went up, and while the cost of living went up, has resulted in the ‘shortage’ [business owners] are experiencing today,” he said, adding: “There isn’t a labor shortage, there is a shortage of business owners willing to pay a living wage.”

If you’re a retail worker or business owner with a story to share please contact this reporter at mhanbury@insider.com.

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A Tesla factory worker said he was called the N-word ‘100 times’ by coworkers, according to a sworn testimony

tesla factory reopening coronavirus
Workers in orange vests are seen outside Tesla’s primary vehicle factory after CEO Elon Musk defied local restrictions by reopening the plant in Fremont, California, May 12, 2020.

  • Protocol obtained sworn testimony from Tesla workers who said they were routinely called the N-word.
  • The testimonies were part of a 2017 lawsuit filed by former Black workers at Tesla’s Fremont plant.
  • Former workers at multiple US plants sued Tesla, alleging racial harassment.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Former Tesla workers routinely used racial slurs against Black employees, according to sworn testimonies obtained by Protocol.

Aaron Craven, a Black worker at Tesla’s Fremont factory, said in a sworn statement he had been called the N-word “approximately 100 times,” and saw KKK signs and swastika graffitied in bathroom stalls. Workers submitted 103 declarations in March 2021 as part 2017 lawsuit suing Tesla for racial harassment.

“I was directly called n—– and n—- approximately 100 times at the Fremont factory,” Craven said a sworn statement reviewed by Protocol. “I heard the terms n—– and n—- used over 100 times by coworkers, and by my lead Auggie, in the Tesla factory.”

Read more: A top battery startup just tapped a Tesla veteran to lead manufacturing. Here’s her plan to dominate EVs.

Additionally, ex-contractor Aaron Minor stated he heard Tesla employees refer to the Fremont factory as a plantation and Black people as “cotton workers,” Protocol reported.

Two separate lawsuits filed against Tesla in 2017 alleged racial harassment and discrimination at the Fremont plant. Former Tesla worker DeWitt Lambert said coworkers regularly called him the N-word and made sexually explicit comments.

In 2019, Black and Latino workers at a Tesla factory in Buffalo, New York, filed discrimination complaints with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the New York Division of Human Rights. The six former workers said they heard racial slurs and racist comments at the factory.

Tesla admitted the firm has “work to do” to be representative of the evolving US population after an internal diversity report showed Black people hold just 4% of leadership roles at the transportation company.

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Insiders reveal what it’s really like working at Amazon when it comes to hiring, firing, performance reviews, and more

Jeff Bezos and Andy Jassy surrounded by images of workers and robots in Amazon warehouses
Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Andy Jassy.

  • Insider is investigating Amazon’s workplace amid a major effort to unionize the company.
  • The e-commerce and cloud giant has a complex performance-review system some employees say is unfair.
  • Amazon is investigating allegations of gender bias in its Prime division after Insider reporting.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Amazon is the second-largest US employer and still one of the fastest-growing in the country. It offers income and benefits to well over 1 million people, and it’s been a source of jobs and shopping convenience during the pandemic.

With that level of influence, Amazon’s operations have come under intense scrutiny, which has prompted a nationwide unionization effort. The following covers everything you need to know about what it’s like to work at the company.


How Amazon culls its workforce

Andy Jassy
Under outgoing CEO Andy Jassy, Amazon’s cloud unit has built up an impressive roster of cloud security partners – but they often also work with competitors Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud.

Insider is investigating Amazon’s system for improving, or ousting, employees deemed underperformers. Once managers label workers as struggling, they are put on a “Focus” coaching plan. If they fail there, the workers are moved to another program called “Pivot,” and then finally to an internal company jury that decides their fate at the company.

The system has been criticized by some current and former employees, who say it is unfairly stacked against them and can encourage managers to give bad reviews to good staff. Amazon says it gives managers tools to help employees improve and advance in their careers. “This includes resources for employees who are not meeting expectations and may require additional coaching. If an employee believes they are not receiving a fair assessment of their performance, they have multiple channels where they can raise this,” a company spokesperson said recently.

Amazon has a goal to get rid of a certain number of employees each year, which is called unregretted attrition. Some managers at the company told Insider they felt so much pressure to meet the target that they hire people who they intend to fire within a year.

Read more


The company has been hit with allegations of bias

amazon logo

There’s been a rash of lawsuits filed against Amazon alleging gender and racial bias. In May, five current and former female employees sued the company Amazon, claiming “abusive mistreatment by primarily white male managers.”

In February, Charlotte Newman, a Black Amazon manager, filed a suit alleging gender discrimination and sexual harassment. And last year, a high-profile female engineer called on the company to fix what she saw as a “harassment culture,” Insider reported.

An Amazon spokesperson said the company investigated the cases, found no evidence to support the allegations, and doesn’t tolerate discrimination or harassment.

Read more


Amazon’s warehouses churn through workers

Robots in a UK Amazon warehouse
Robotic Amazon warehouses use robots to ferry shelves of items around the warehouse floor. Above, a photo taken in an Amazon warehouse in the UK.

The company’s fulfillment centers employ hundreds of thousands of people, offering pay and benefits that are competitive versus other retail-industry jobs. But the work can be grueling, some staff don’t stick around long, and there are growing efforts to unionize this modern blue-collar workforce.

Amazon warehouses are partly automated, using robots that zip around the shop floor fetching pallets of merchandise and bringing them to employees who pick the correct items and pack them for shipping. The company hires thousands of extra temporary workers each year to support a surge in orders during the holiday shopping period.

During the pandemic, online orders have jumped at an unusual time for Amazon. It prompted an unprecedented hiring spree last year but caused tension with workers concerned about entering warehouses that could spread the virus. These issues came to a head earlier this year, when employees at a fulfillment center in Bessemer, Alabama, voted on whether to form a union. The effort failed, but there’s a bigger union push gathering steam.

In his final shareholder letter as CEO earlier this year, Jeff Bezos defended Amazon’s working conditions, but said the company needed “to do a better job for our employees.”

Read more


Amazon’s delivery network relies on thousands of drivers

Amazon delivery drivers pee bottle 4x3

The company partners with UPS, FedEx, and the US Postal Service, but it also operates a massive fleet of in-house delivery vehicles. These vans are driven by a combination of employees, third-party courier services, and contract workers.

Amazon is known for imposing strict time constraints on drivers and tracking how many times they stop and how fast they drive. While the company factors in break times – a 30-minute lunch and two 15-minute breaks – some drivers say they either can’t or don’t want to take them.

Earlier this year, a US lawmaker tweeted that Amazon workers have to pee in bottles. The company denied this, but multiple drivers confirmed it was part of the job. Amazon later apologized and said drivers have trouble finding restrooms because of traffic and being on rural routes, adding that the issue has been exacerbated by closed public bathrooms during the pandemic.

Read more


How to get a job at Amazon

Amazon job fair 2017
Job seekers line up to apply during “Amazon Jobs Day” at a fulfillment center in Fall River, Massachusetts, in August 2017.

Amazon remains an important employer that is growing quickly. Unlike some of its Big Tech rivals, the company offers a range of positions, from highly technical roles to blue-collar jobs. It’s recruiting methods range from massive job fairs to tough one-on-one interviews.

The company ranks among the top employers among technical students. In a survey published last year, Amazon came 10th in a survey of engineering students, beating out Intel and IBM but trailing Tesla and SpaceX.

Read more

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Retail workers are fed up and rage-quitting, and the tight labor market could help them score the better pay and benefits they’ve demanded for years

Taari Coleman - a NC Raise Up activist - holds a "Fight for 15" at a Charlotte, North Carolina teach-in.
What’s next for retail workers?

  • Retail employees are demanding better pay and working conditions.
  • They’re leveraging the demand for labor as retailers struggle to fill job vacancies.
  • Experts say the tight labor market positions the retail industry for a reset as the economy reopens.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Many retail workers are fed up with their jobs. For years, these employees have bemoaned the low wages, stress, and lack of respect they say they face at work.

The pandemic has only amplified their concerns. Workers at major retailers have been rage-quitting, striking, and generally making their unhappiness with the industry known.

Now, a tight labor market could give these employees unprecedented power to demand lasting changes in the industry, experts say.

“Retail workers are leading a movement and turning public praise during the pandemic into good jobs that can create meaningful, lasting change in their lives,” Bianca Augustin, the research director for workers’ rights group United for Respect. “Never has there been more support for the idea that everybody employed by a major corporation should receive at least $15/hour and 40 hours/week, adequate paid sick leave, and a voice on the job.”

In the twilight of the pandemic, the evidence seems to point toward certain important gains for retail workers – like small, permanent pay increases as well as more leverage for and choice of individual prospective employees. But that doesn’t mean that a complete overhaul of retail work is imminent.

Common retail industry practices, such as relying on low-paying part-time jobs, are still entrenched within the business, experts say. And returning to “normal” after the pandemic could mean a return to low pay and more stress for many retail workers.

Consumer demand is rising faster than retailers can hire

Chris Tilly, a professor at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs, said it’s hard to make predictions about what’s next for the labor market, but noted that consumer demand appears to be outpacing retailers’ ability to staff stores. That gives more leverage to workers.

“I don’t think we’re at a point where workers have permanently gained the upper hand, but I would be cautious about saying exactly when the power is going to shift back more to employers,” he said.

The central problem is that “retailers are having trouble attracting workers at the rates of pay that they’re offering,” according to Tilly, who has studied unequal labor conditions and their effects.

“Consumer demand is expanding faster than people are able and willing to go back into the labor force,” he said.

University of Massachusetts Boston professor Françoise Carré said that retail jobs have been particularly grueling during the pandemic because of their “frantic pace” and employees’ fears over catching COVID-19.

Still, she said that some retailers may be looking to wait out the tight labor market.

“Maybe some retailers are speculating that, ‘Well, there’s all these unemployed retail workers sitting around waiting to see some kind of revival with the clothing stores and all the other categories of retailers that were closed,'” she said. “‘Maybe I’ll have no trouble.'”

McDonald’s franchisees in Florida have blamed the tight labor market on unemployment benefits – despite the fact that only one in 28 Americans turned down jobs to stay on unemployment. But keeping with that logic, the retail industry would see a return to the status quo as soon as the pandemic comes to a close and enhanced unemployment benefits end.

Retailers looking to wait things out are likely in for a rude awakening, according to Krista Hardwick, the legal director of Deputy, an international shift-work management company.

“I don’t think that the labor shortage is going to resolve itself or just kind of go away as a lot of businesses are hoping,” she said.

Workers are claiming small victories, but have a long way to go

One way workers can win higher pay and better benefits is through organizing with labor unions. But only 4.1% of retail workers belonged to a union in 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

President Joe Biden is more open to worker-friendly causes – like a national $15 minimum wage – than his predecessor, but a vote on such measures hardly seems imminent.

And while a boost to the federal minimum wage would help, it wouldn’t address many other pervasive frustrations with retail work, such as inconsistent shifts, poor benefits packages, and a lack of childcare.

“It’s not surprising that these kinds of jobs are not appealing to workers who have some level of choice in the matter,” Tilly said.

Retailers that don’t make changes to attract workers could suffer consequences, Hardwick said.

“Some businesses are taking a wait-and-see approach and banking on the fact that workers are going to have to come back,” Hardwick said. “But I don’t know – it’ll be really interesting to watch. I think that workers aren’t going to want to come back to work at places that aren’t treating them fairly.”

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Amazon burns through workers so quickly that executives are worried they’ll run out of people to employ, according to new report

Amazon fulfillment center
Inside an Amazon warehouse.

Amazon has been hiring hundreds of thousands of workers for roles in its warehouses, which it calls “fulfillment centers,” but those employees have been quitting almost as fast as they can be hired, according to a huge new report from The New York Times.

Of the over 350,000 new workers it hired between July and October 2020, the report said, many only stayed with the company “just days or weeks.”

Hourly employees had a turnover rate of approximately 150% every year, data reviewed by the Times demonstrated, reportedly leading some Amazon executives to worry about running out of hirable employees in the US.

Amazon went on an extended hiring spree throughout 2020 as it attempted to keep up with a massive spike in demand during coronavirus lockdowns. As Americans increasingly turned to Amazon for everything from toiletries to groceries, the company repeatedly touted major hiring pushes.

By May 2021, Amazon was even offering $1,000 signing bonuses to new employees – partially a symptom of hiring issues employers are facing in a variety of industries, but potentially also a result of Amazon’s remarkably high turnover rate.

One former Amazon manager who oversaw human resources efforts focused on warehouse workers compared the situation with worker churn at Amazon warehouses to the ongoing use of fossil fuels. “We keep using them, even though we know we’re slowly cooking ourselves,” he told the Times.

Amazon representatives didn’t respond to a request for comment as of publishing.

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

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