By Sahid Fawaz
Amazon made headlines this week when news surfaced that workers are urinating in bottles to avoid being fired.
In response to the story, one Amazon worker posted on the popular site reddit about his harrowing experience working at one of the company’s infamous warehouses.
“Amazon employee here.
The post [about urinating in bottles] is pretty spot on. They don’t monitor bathroom breaks, but your individual rate (or production goal) doesn’t account for bathroom breaks, or… let’s say there is a problem like you need 2 of something and there’s only one left; well you have to put on your “andon”… wait for someone to come “fix” for you, all the while your rate is dropping. The 2 most common reasons people get fired are not hitting rate, and attendance. They don’t really try to help you hit rate, they just fire and replace.
My first week there 2 people collapsed from dehydration. It’s so common place to see someone collapse that nobody is even shocked anymore. You’ll just hear a manager complain that he has to do some report now, while a couple of new people try to help the guy (veterans won’t risk helping because it drips rate). No sitting allowed, and there’s nowhere to sit anywhere except the break rooms. Before the robots (they call them kivas), pickers would regularly walk 10-15 miles a day, now it’s just stand for 10-12 hours a day.
People complain about the heat all the time but we just get told 80 degrees ( Fahrenheit obviously) is a safe working temp. Some times they will pull out a thermometer, but even when it hits 85 they just say it’s fine.
There’s been deaths, at least one in my building… Amazon likes to keep it all hush hush. Heard about others, you can find the stories if you search for it, but Amazon does a good job burying it.
Every now and we have an inspection, where stuff like this should be caught and changed. But they just pretty it up. If the people doing the inspection looked at numbers on inspection day vs normal operation, they would see a massive difference… but no fucks given.
The truth is the warehouses operate at a loss most the time, Amazon literally can’t afford to pay the workers decent pay, and can’t afford to not work them to death. The entire business model is dependent on cheep (easily replaceable) labor, which is why tier 1s are the bulk of the Amazon work force. My building has like 3-5k workers most the time and around 10-30k on the holiday ( what they call peak). Almost all of that is tier 1, most states have 4-7 of these warehouses, and some like Texas and Arizona have tons more.
Next time you order something off Amazon, remember it was put in that box buy a guy sweating his ass off trying to put 100-250 things in a box per hour, for 10 hours a day or he will be fired, making about a dollar more than minimum wage. Might have even been a night shift guy, who goes to work at 630pm and gets off at 5am.“