Scathing Reports Document Worker Abuses At Amazon Warehouses Just In Time For Holiday Rush | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

Scathing Reports Document Worker Abuses At Amazon Warehouses Just In Time For Holiday Rush

Amazon has repeatedly insisted that reports about the allegedly terrible working conditions in its "fulfillment center" warehouses are overblown, and that it's workers are treated no differently than any other warehouse worker. To try and save face, Amazon announced last year that it would hike pay to at least $15 for thousands of workers in its warehouses and elsewhere.

But the abuses have apparently continued, and a series of reports released just days before the beginning of the holiday shopping season highlighted Amazon's abuses of both its workers and the public welfare system.

The report that drew the most attention was a joint project between the Reveal Center for Investigative Reporting and The Atlantic which found that Amazon warehouse workers are seriously injured on the job at twice the rate of other warehouse workers - likely a factor of Amazon's demanding conditions.

The reporter who wrote the piece compared injury records from 23 of Amazon's 110 fulfillment centers nationwide. He found the rate of injuries at Amazon's centers was 9.6 per 100 full-time workers in 2018, compared with an industry average of four, according to the Atlantic.

It's the latest indication that Amazon's usage of robots to work in harmony with people on its warehouse floors has made work more dangerous for people.

One warehouse worker interviewed for the story was required to scan a new item at her station every 11 seconds - and that Amazon knew when she didn't.

Dixon’s scan rate – more than 300 items an hour, thousands of individual products a day – was being tracked constantly, the data flowing to managers in real time, then crunched by a proprietary software system called ADAPT. She knew, like the thousands of other workers there, that if she didn’t hit her target speed, she would be written up and, if she didn’t improve, she eventually would be fired.

The report also delved into the death of a worker at one of Amazon's warehouses, and whether Amazon's quotas had any impact on that.

Another report released yesterday was from the Economic Roundtable, a nonprofit research group, in a study underwritten by the LA Federation of Labor (full disclosure).

It determined that more than half of Amazon warehouse workers in Southern California live in substandard housing, and that, for every $1 in wages they receive, they also get 24 cents in public assistance. On average, employees receive $5,245 in public benefits a year. And the biggest expense is government subsidized health insurance.

The report's authors also accused Amazon of positioning its warehouses in California near low-income communities to ensure an endless supply of hungry workers. Meanwhile, the report describes Amazons culture of monitoring employees' movements as "grueling and high-stress."

Amazon’s warehouse jobs are grueling and high-stress. Customer orders must be assembled and delivered on rapid schedules. Warehouse workers wear tracking devices that management uses to monitor where they are at any time, how many steps they take to get their packages assembled, and how long it takes to pick up each item.

Those who can’t meet the assembly quotas are terminated. Most logistics employees are working full-time to support their families but 86 percent earn less than the basic living wage for Riverside and San Bernardino counties. The typical worker had total annual earnings in 2017 of $20,585, which is slightly over half of the living wage. Fourteen percent were under the federal poverty threshold and another 31 percent were just above the poverty threshold.

Comments

I worked at the most.....

Ethan Allen and...

dangerous Amazon Fulfillment center on the Planet Troutdale,Oregon. 26 serious injuries per 100 workers. Then I transferred over to Amazon Prime delivery. After 3 months on the job I tore my meniscus in several places getting out of my van. Repetitive motion injury. Been fighting a WC Claim ever since. My doc wants to do surgery. Amazon's insurance wants me to see their doctor now. They will attempt to invalidate and or minimize my claim.

High quotas also lead to drivers making choices that jeopardize their own health and safety in addition to the safety of others on the road. One driver described to NBC an expectation that he would deliver 300 packages in a day (a little under one per minute, not counting the breaks several states mandate in an eight-hour work shift).

"You don't take your lunch break. You don't use the bathroom... There were guys peeing in bottles in the van," he said, including himself in that category. "You speed. You run stop signs in a neighborhood... You start conditioning yourself to just go as fast as possible."

Going as fast as possible, of course, is a recipe for disaster, and several fatal incidents involving Amazon Prime delivery vans have occurred nationwide. Multiple previous reports have probed the sprawling web of third-party contracting and subcontracting firms that allow Amazon to avoid legal liability in cases of crashes or deaths.

https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2019/11/state-ignored-worker-death...

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE WITH YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA