Author: Spencer Soper | Bloomberg
Amazon There is a solution to a potentially serious shortage of delivery drivers: recruit people who smoke marijuana.
Based on letters reviewed by Bloomberg and interviews with four business owners, the company is advising its delivery partners-couples who run the ubiquitous blue Amazon van-to advertise in prominent locations, saying they will not screen for smoking. Applicant for marijuana.
Amazon said in an email that this could increase the number of job applicants by as much as 400%, but did not explain how it arrived at this statistic. On the contrary, the company said that marijuana screening can reduce the number of potential employees by as much as 30%.
A delivery partner who stopped screening applicants at Amazon’s request said that cannabis is the main reason most people fail the drug test. Now she only tests drugs such as opioids and amphetamines, and more drivers have passed.
Other courier companies are continuing to screen applicants, and they worry about the insurance and liability implications in many states where marijuana use is still illegal. They also worry that ending drug testing may prompt some drivers to stop before going out.
“If one of my drivers crashed and died and tested positive for marijuana, it was my problem, not Amazon’s,” said a person who asked to discuss the issue anonymously because Amazon discourages courier company bosses from talking to the media.
In the case of labor contraction after the pandemic, employers have pending various recruitment incentives because recruitment bonuses alone are no longer prominent. Target Corp. announced this month that it will pay college tuition for its employees. Applebee’s provides free appetizers for recruiting 10,000 employees.
Amazon is lobbying the federal government to legalize marijuana and announced in June that it will no longer screen applicants for the drug. Soon after, the company began to urge its delivery partners to do the same.
An Amazon spokesperson said in a statement that marijuana testing has a disproportionate impact on communities of color and hinders job growth. She also stated that the company has zero tolerance for employees who are injured at work.
“If a delivery person is affected at work and tests positive after an accident or due to reasonable suspicion, that person will no longer be allowed to provide services to Amazon,” she said.
About 100 delivery business owners who gathered in Las Vegas this week are most concerned about hiring and recruiting drivers. They brainstorm ideas to help their company thrive. With the busy holiday shopping season approaching, they are trying to stand out in the tight labor market. Amazon delivery contractors usually bid higher than school bus companies. Drivers can earn more than $20 an hour and can go home for dinner. Amazon contract drivers usually earn $17 an hour and often work late into the night to meet demand.
One solution is to increase their wages. But this will only happen if Amazon agrees to pay more service fees to its delivery partners, and the company may be slow to do so.