Wednesday, September 21, 2011

“Inside Amazon’s warehouse”

Life in an Amazon warehouse:

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.
Says an employee quoted in the article, “They just push, push, push.”

Where to go instead? Powell’s is the largest union bookstore in the United States.

Inside Amazon’s warehouse (The Morning Call)

(Thanks, Adair.)

comments: 7

Adair said...

Thank you for looking into this, Michael. I was very disturbed by this report.The books and compact discs that I purchase on Amazon, and that bring me such pleasure and uplift and wisdom, are actually packaged by abused workers. It is a nauseating thought.

Anonymous said...

Given that the economy is soured by too many things, the simple fact is that employment is not slavery. Poor conditions to some are not cause for quitting, and quitting is always an option in a free society. The gray scale from free men to slaves and slaves to free men includes "abused workers," a phrase which means different things to different people. Consider the phrase "wage slave" as an example of language churning meanings into nonsense. I have quit jobs and even a career in my life, and think anyone can do the same, given enough moxie. For this, my take is often that the "abused worker" and those who would use this phrase too easily evidence little moxie and little freedom to choose. As to high temperatures, the southeast coast in summer or the Mojave are also hot. So is a sauna, and so is military training and assignment to Afghanistan in a war being continued by this administration. Perhaps hot and abused is just a phenomenological, perceptive issue. After all, Quixote always needs a mill and a maiden.

Michael Leddy said...

So conditions in the Mojave Desert mean that 100+ temperatures in a warehouse are okay? One difference between the desert and a warehouse is that a warehouse can be air-conditioned, if its owner is willing to foot the bill.

stefan said...

Anonymous, I admire your close attention to language and agree that "wage slave" is sometimes hyperbole (indeed, I just heard Rep. John Fleming complain the other day about how hard it is to feed his family on 600k). But if by championing "moxie," you mean that nerve, absent a good education, some kind of support system, and a greater distance than one paycheck between home and homelessness, is sufficient to protect the worker who exercises her freedom to quit, it is hard to agree. It's pretty to think that "anyone can do the same" when it comes to leaving a job, but I don't think it's true. Some people are a lot freer than others.

Michael Leddy said...

Stefan, your comment reminded me of the great passage in Dickens’s Hard Times:

“‘Thank you, ma’am. But, since you do refer to me, now look at me, ma’am. I have put by a little, ma’am, already. That gratuity which I receive at Christmas, ma’am: I never touch it. I don’t even go the length of my wages, though they’re not high, ma’am. Why can’t they do as I have done, ma’am? What one person can do, another can do.’

This, again, was among the fictions of Coketown. Any capitalist there, who had made sixty thousand pounds out of sixpence, always professed to wonder why the sixty thousand nearest Hands didn’t each make sixty thousand pounds out of sixpence, and more or less reproached them every one for not accomplishing the little feat. What I did you can do. Why don’t you go and do it?”

Anonymous said...

Moxie, nerve absent a good education describe many a multi-millionaire in the electornics and relates fields today. Any many of them are poltiically liberal as well. Risk remains risk, and those people who "are a lot freer than others" are many times those who simply take they chances NOT working in an Amazon warehouse, as one of many examples. As to the reports of 100+ degrees in Amazon warehouses, please consult the OSHA regulations, federal and overriding, by which complaints AND corrections can be applied very, very quickly. Choosing to complain rather than take action, individually as collectively, is not liberality. It is whining. I prefer action, and generally I prefer individual action over a collective which might begin to run in a direction which might include "over me." Some people indeed are a lot freer than others, but in a free society it is a matter of taking that liberty, and the risks which go with it. Dickens' time was not the "sweatshop" of Amazon, and the remainder of "Hard Times" shows well.

Michael Leddy said...

One form of individual action might be to order books elsewhere. A reader recommends Powell’s, the largest union bookstore in the United States.