Who doesn’t love to be micromanaged EVERY SECOND OF THE DAY?!
Both permanent and temporary employees are subject to a point-based disciplinary system. Employees accumulate points for such infractions as missing work, not working fast enough or breaking a safety rule such as keeping two hands on an inventory cart. If they get too many points, they can be fired. In the event of illness, employees have to bring in a doctor’s note and request a medical waiver to have their disciplinary points removed, those interviewed said.
Not working fast enough, or failing to “make rate,” is a common reason employees get disciplinary points, those interviewed said. Workers are expected to maintain a rate, measured in units per hour, which varies depending on the job and the size of inventory being handled. Products moving through the warehouse range broadly in size, from compact discs and iPods to chain saws. Workers use hand-held scanners to track inventory as it moves through the warehouse, which enables managers to monitor productivity minute by minute, employees said.
So what happens when Amazon warehouse workers complain?
She wrote a letter to Amazon’s human resources manager at the Breinigsville warehouse about the working conditions, saying sometimes minutes go unaccounted for in the system because workers use the restroom, their scanners stop working and they have to log back into the system, aisles get crowded requiring workers to take longer routes to retrieve inventory, or workers move at a slower pace if they are not feeling well. Salasky invited the human resources manager to contact her about the concerns. She said she never received a response.
When the weather got hot in May, Salasky said, her work pace dropped, which prompted questions from supervisors.
“I just kept pushing myself,” she said. “They asked me why my rates were dropping, and I said my rates are dropping because it’s hot and I have asthma.”
Salasky said she would cry herself to sleep at night. She and her colleagues lamented about the heat, often chanting sarcastically “End slavery at Amazon.”
And what did Amazon have to say about all this when confront by the paper, you ask?
The Morning Call forwarded concerns of workers to Amazon. The company didn’t answer specific questions about the number of people working in the warehouse, the turnover rate or the working conditions. Instead, Amazon spokeswoman Michele Glisson emailed a statement, which she attributed to Vickie Mortimer, general manager at the Upper Macungie warehouse.
“The safety and welfare of our employees is our No. 1 priority at Amazon, and as the general manager, I take that responsibility seriously,” Mortimer said. “We go to great lengths to ensure a safe work environment, with activities that include free water, snacks, extra fans and cooled air during the summer. I am grateful to work with such a fantastic group of employees from our community, and we partner with them every day to make sure our facility is a great place to work.”
Oh but hey that Amazon redesign sure looks spiffy, doesn’t it?