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Amazon’s Covid Dilemma: Mandate Vaccinations and Risk Losing Workers

Amazon has many virus skeptics in its warehouse ranks and needs to retain employees amid a tight labor market.

"Big employers like Amazon and Walmart are in a “brutal war for frontline workers, which makes it impossible to demand workers get vaccinated and keep stores and warehouses open," said Kirthi Kalyanam, executive director of the Retail Management Institute at Santa Clara University. It’s too easy for workers who don’t want to be vaccinated to quit and find another job with a less strict employer or a gig-job like DoorDash.
"Vaccination rates are also lower with workers with lower education levels, a labor pool on which Walmart and Amazon rely," he said. Walmart, the largest private U.S. employer, last week said corporate staff must get vaccinated and that store and warehouse employees must resume wearing masks at work. Kalyanam said that mandating vaccines among leadership to set an example and then encouraging it at the worker level, is a reasonable approach.
“If the president of the United States and Centers for Disease Control are telling everyone to get vaccinated and people still aren’t doing it, an employer isn’t going to make a difference,” he said. “There’s no way for anyone to mandate this. You’ll lose your labor force and business will grind to a halt.”

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