Amazon Using Contractors to Avoid Fair Wages and Benefits for Holiday Workers

By Sahid Fawaz

Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos, is worth over $100 billion: probably more money than you and I could manage to spend if we spent the rest of our lives spending it. Yet he still finds ways to undercut workers.

A former temp worker for Amazon writes in the Huffington Post:

“This holiday season, more Americans are shopping from their smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Until recently, I was one of the hundreds of thousands of warehouse workers who help bring you the holidays when you shop online.

Working at an Amazon fulfillment center, I took pride in my work behind the scenes to make shopping easier for you. But the reality is, we work hard and yet the holidays aren’t delivering for Amazon temp workers like me.

Last fall, Amazon announced a nationwide hiring spree of warehouse workers, promising decent wages and health benefits. The company fills many of its warehouse positions through temp and staffing agencies. That way, they don’t have to offer the same pay and benefits they offer to Amazon employees. As Amazon proudly tells its investors, “we utilize independent contractors and temporary personnel to supplement our workforce.”

I came on last November to work in package-receiving at an Amazon warehouse in Joliet, Illinois. But I was hired by Integrity Staffing Solutions, a temp agency that’s been one of Amazon’s partners since 1998. Integrity Staffing lists dozens of temp jobs on its website, claiming “these are no ordinary jobs. They can be the next rung up your ladder of career and personal success.” But that was hardly my experience as a temp worker at Amazon.

Working for the temp agency, I was treated differently than the people who did the same job, but worked directly for Amazon. I had no benefits, but they did. I made $12.50 an hour, but they made $13.00. And if I was late coming back from a break, I got in trouble, even if Amazon’s direct employees were walking right next to me.

It’s unfair that companies like Amazon can use these kinds of staffing arrangements to avoid responsibility for their workers. Although on paper I worked for a temp agency, who I really worked for was Amazon. After all, I was working at an Amazon warehouse, moving Amazon orders, and being supervised by Amazon employees, with key terms of employment largely determined by Amazon. That’s why I say Amazon was my real boss.

I have a family of six kids and a fiancée, so a lot of people are depending on me, and it was really hard to get by on such low pay, with no benefits.”

For the rest of his story, check out the full piece at the Huffington Post here.

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