California bill could change Amazon employee practices

The epidemic has doubled its annual profits last year, bringing Amazon to $ 21 billion, the largest of its kind this year.

Millions of Americans have benefited from the fast-paced housing, but critics say the company is costing the workers too much.

That labor model can often be modified using algorithms based on California accounting, which seeks to define labor productivity quotas for warehouse employers such as Amazon. .

“The control is being done by computers,” said accountant Lorena Gonzalez. But they do not take into account human circumstances.

A law passed by the Senate in May and the state Senate is expected to vote this week prohibits any quota that prevents employees from taking government-sponsored breaks or using the bathroom when necessary or preventing employers from respecting their health. Safety rules.

The law has faced strong opposition from business groups, which has led to an explosion of costly litigation and fines an entire industry for overestimating an employer.

“They follow one company, but at the same time, they pull everyone else in the supply chain,” said Rachel Mi Michel, president of the California Retail Association, where Amazon is based.

Amazon spokeswoman Kelly Nantel declined to comment on the bill, but said in a statement that “performance goals will be determined over time based on actual employee performance” and will take into account employee experience as well as health and safety. Estimates.

Interruptions to performance problems are rare – less than 1 percent, ”added Nantl.

The company has been illegally involved in collective bargaining in the Alabama warehouse and is growing its staff, including a decision by the regional director of the National Labor Relations Board. The discovery could spark a new election there, although it is appealing to keep the first vote won by Amazon.

In June, members of the International Brotherhood decided to form a union to provide “all the necessary resources” to organize Amazon’s staff, in part by pushing the company through political means. Teamsters officials have been involved in Amazon’s tax cuts and approval for an institution in Colorado, as well as California law enforcement.

Both sides view the fight against Amazon quotas as a major factor. “We know that the future of this work is falling into this kind of algorithm,” says accountant Gonzalez. If we don’t intervene now, other companies will be the next step.

Mr Lin Lynn, president of the retail association, emphasized that the information was “proprietary information” and that supporters of the bill “wanted that information because it would help consolidate distribution centers.”

According to a report by a group of four unions, Amazon’s damage rate will double by the rest of the warehouse industry by 2020 and more than double that of Walmart, a highly competitive warehouse. .

Asked about the findings, Amazon spokeswoman Nantl did not speak directly to them, but said the company had recently been able to partner with a non-profit security group and develop ways to prevent musculoskeletal injuries. She said Amazon has invested more than $ 300 million in security measures this year.

Amazon’s staff has repeatedly complained that supervisors are working too fast.

Another California accountant said in a study by the Los Angeles County Labor Federation that “there were a lot of grandparents.” Administrators said, “They would come to these old women and say, ‘Hey, I need you urgently,’ and then you could see on her face that she wanted to cry. “This body is the fastest thing I can do,” she said.

Yesenia Barrera, a former Amazon employee in California, was told by executives that she had to pull 200 items an hour from her cargo belt and open her inbox. She often achieved this by simply reducing her use of the bathroom.

In an interview for this article, Ms. Barrera said, “To do that, I would neglect to use toilet-like things.” When the bell rang, I felt I had to do a few more things before I got up.

Edward Flores, director of the Faculty of Community and Labor Center at the University of California, Mercedes, said that frequent self-harm is a unique problem in the warehouse industry.

“They are responding to the speed of the machine,” says Dr. Flores, who has studied injuries in the industry. Increased reliance on robotics, high frequency of repetitive movements, and frequent injuries. Amazon has become a leader in receiving warehouse robots.

California plays an important role in the e-commerce and distribution industry, as it is home to the largest economy and technology center and home to most of Amazon’s imports. Located just east of Los Angeles, the state is one of the largest Amazon fulfillment centers in the country.

According to Gonzalez, after announcing the same bill last year, she relied on goals instead of meeting with Amazon officials and denied that workers had been penalized for failing to meet them.

At a meeting a few days before this year’s adoption of the law, Amazon officials acknowledged that they could do more to improve the health and well-being of their employees, but did not offer specific suggestions on how to be more productive.

During a recent meeting, Gonzalez recalled that an Amazon official had warned that some employees would take advantage of the generous opportunities to use the bathroom before signing up for another official.

“Someone else was trying to get me back,” she said. “It is often said in silence. It’s not the first time I’ve heard it. ”

The billing system has always been a rock in the state Senate, which has been weakened by the amendments. The law no longer directs the State Occupational Safety and Health Agency to enact a law prohibiting warehousing damage due to work or other physical stress.

Instead, it allows the Office of the State Labor Commissioner to obtain information on quotas and damages, thereby strengthening enforcement. Employees can sue employers to avoid excessive quotas.

Gonzalez said she was confident of the Senate closing on Friday, but business groups were still working hard to disrupt it.

Mr Lin Lynn, president of the retail group, said the changes in the Senate committees made the bill more attractive and that its members could support more funding for regulators to enforce health and safety regulations. However, he said they were concerned about the way the bill would lead their employees to sue their employers.

“We will never support it,” she said.

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