Amazon’s crushing demands on warehouse workers have been revealed in multiple reports. Ambulances are posted outside of facilities as workers drop from being overworked. Wristband tracking systems buzz and alert workers where they have to run next or alert them if they are being “unproductive.” And now a new report indicates that the company doesn’t just track workers at its warehouses, the system automatically fires people too.
Amazon hasn’t been reserved in firing people for a number of reasons. Amazon has fired workers who tried to unionize. The prospect of workers unionizing became such a threat to the company that they produced cartoons for managers at Whole Foods to educate themselves on how to better manipulate workers and squash any pro-union sentiments that inevitably arise in a corporate culture with rampant labor abuse.
Between 2017 and 2018, Amazon fired more than 300 people at a single facility in Baltimore, Maryland for “failure to meet productivity rates,” the Verge reported, citing a letter from an Amazon lawyer as part of a National Labor Relations Board case.
“Maryland does not require employers to provide breaks, including lunch breaks, for workers 18 years old or older,” according to Maryland labor law. It is likely Amazon is taking advantage of this law with a massive “fulfillment center” in the state, so they can work people beyond what is reasonable or humane.
Amazon’s system tracks “time off task,” meaning how long a person pauses or takes a break, the Verge reported. As has been reported in the past, warehouse workers feel so pressured to be productive that they don’t stop to go to the bathroom. If the system determines a worker isn’t meeting the company’s productivity standards, the system can automatically issue warnings and fire the worker, without human intervention.
As Amazon continues to grow, the company will demand more packages be delivered at a faster pace. This demand isn’t going away, but workers will likely go away and be replaced by robots.
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