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Amazon Drops Clause in Layoff Deal

February 02, 2001|Associated Press

Laid-off hourly workers at Amazon.com Inc.'s Seattle customer service center will now be able to receive extra severance benefits without signing an agreement prohibiting them from bad-mouthing the company. The company had earlier told the laid-off workers they would each receive an extra six weeks' pay and $500 in cash if they signed an agreement that included a promise not to make derogatory comments about the company. Amazon said that it's still asking hourly employees to sign the 15-page agreement to receive the extra benefits, but told workers they can delete that particular clause. Employees who do not sign the agreement will receive only the standard two weeks' pay. Gretchen Wilson of the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers, which has been trying to organize Amazon employees, applauded Amazon's decision. But she said her organization is still calling for an absolute withdrawal of the separation agreement. Amazon on Tuesday said it would lay off 1,300 workers, or 15% of its work force, and close the Seattle customer service center and a distribution center in Georgia. The separation agreement, including the nondisparagement clause, is standard for all laid-off employees, an Amazon spokeswoman said. Amazon.com shares fell $1.06 to close at $16.25 on Nasdaq.

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