This story about their Allentown PA warehouse is really upsetting, and I’m going to have to find a live person to complain to:

Over the past two months, The Morning Call interviewed 20 current and former warehouse workers who showed pay stubs, tax forms or other proof of employment. They offered a behind-the-scenes glimpse of what it’s like to work in the Amazon warehouse, where temperatures soar on hot summer days, production rates are difficult to achieve and the permanent jobs sought by many temporary workers hired by an outside agency are tough to get.

Only one of the employees interviewed described it as a good place to work.

Workers said they were forced to endure brutal heat inside the sprawling warehouse and were pushed to work at a pace many could not sustain. Employees were frequently reprimanded regarding their productivity and threatened with termination, workers said. The consequences of not meeting work expectations were regularly on display, as employees lost their jobs and got escorted out of the warehouse. Such sights encouraged some workers to conceal pain and push through injury lest they get fired as well, workers said.

During summer heat waves, Amazon arranged to have paramedics parked in ambulances outside, ready to treat any workers who dehydrated or suffered other forms of heat stress. Those who couldn’t quickly cool off and return to work were sent home or taken out in stretchers and wheelchairs and transported to area hospitals. And new applicants were ready to begin work at any time.

An emergency room doctor in June called federal regulators to report an “unsafe environment” after he treated several Amazon warehouse workers for heat-related problems. The doctor’s report was echoed by warehouse workers who also complained to regulators, including a security guard who reported seeing pregnant employees suffering in the heat.

In a better economy, not as many people would line up for jobs that pay $11 or $12 an hour moving inventory through a hot warehouse. But with job openings scarce, Amazon and Integrity Staffing Solutions, the temporary employment firm that is hiring workers for Amazon, have found eager applicants in the swollen ranks of the unemployed.

Many warehouse workers are hired for temporary positions by Integrity Staffing Solutions, or ISS, and are told that if they work hard they may be converted to permanent positions with Amazon, current and former employees said. The temporary assignments end after a designated number of hours, and those not hired to permanent Amazon jobs can reapply for temporary positions again after a few months, workers said.

Temporary employees interviewed said few people in their working groups actually made it to a permanent Amazon position. Instead, they said they were pushed harder and harder to work faster and faster until they were terminated, they quit or they got injured. Those interviewed say turnover at the warehouse is high and many hires don’t last more than a few months.

4 thoughts on “Amazon

  1. Contact your (all of us) US Congressperson and the Congressperson whose district the Amazon warehouse is in. Once a week until you (we) see change.

  2. I have managed to avoid Amazon as they seem to pop up in horror stories quite a bit. Animal rights activists have protested their promotion of products linked to cruel practices such as cock-fighting.

    I sympathize with the workers but I can’t support a business like that. Get your books from a local independent book store.

  3. I’ve worked in order-fulfillment warehouses. This is not much different than in any similar business in the country. If this is news to anyone, then you haven’t gotten out much in our magnificent republic lately. These kinds of places are bread and butter for the temp agencies; constant turnover and pretty constant labor pool to fill the fallouts.

    Imhotemp: Congress doesn’t determine how an Amazon warehouse is staffed or run, as long as the letter of OSHA is met. The rest is white noise with no legal ground for complaint. See, this is what the Bush People brought with them: If it’s not illegal, then it’s all good. No laws being broken, just people.

  4. This is what it’s like in the world.
    The last factory I worked at had a reputation for sending people to the emergency room with heart problems.
    I don’t know how you avoid this.

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