Amazon CEO Explains Layoffs While Unionized Workers Protest

As tech layoffs continue, some CEOs are attempting to explain their thinking.

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Amazon CEO Andy Jassy did so on Wednesday at the New York Times DealBook summit, CNN reports — while unionized Amazon warehouse workers protested outside the building.

Related: Amazon CEO Andy Jassy Announces More Layoffs Into Next Year

In his remarks, Jassy cited the “uncertain economic” environment and Amazon’s formerly aggressive hiring strategy over several years as factors in the decision to conduct layoffs and “streamline” costs.

Amazon confirmed it started laying off corporate employees in November and will continue to do so into next year. It is reportedly planning to slash 10,000 roles.

“You just look in 2020, our retail business grew 39% year-over-year, at a $245 billion annual run rate, which is unprecedented, and it forced us to make decisions in that time to spend a lot more money and to go much faster in building infrastructure than we ever imagined we would,” Jassy said.

While Jassy gave his first interview since announcing the cuts, Amazon warehouse workers behind the company’s first-ever U.S. labor union at a Staten Island facility stood outside the building in the rain to protest the CEO’s presence, per CNN.

Although the union saw a landmark victory in April, Amazon filed 25 objections to the election just one week later, per NPR, including the allegation that the National Labor Relations Board’s Brooklyn office favored the union. But a federal labor official recommended those objections be rejected.

Related: Amazon, Amid Layoffs, Reportedly Conducting Voluntarily Buyouts

In an interview with CNN Business before Jassy’s appearance at the summit, Amazon Labor Union president Chris Smalls questioned how Jassy “even had the audacity to feel comfortable to come to New York City knowing that we haven’t negotiated anything yet.”

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