Cogs In The Machine
TYT On Amazon.com
Interchangable Parts. . .
The recent stories of the employees at an Amazon fulfillment center in Pennsylvania being forced to work at an unsafe pace despite oppressive heat sounds like something from the days of the sweatshops. But I can say that the conditions that these workers faced are all too real.
From 2002 until 2007 and from 2008 to 2011, I worked full and part-time at a FedEx Ground facility in Lewisberry, PA. Now I never did see ambulances parked at the doors of the facility, and when the weather did get too warm, we were provided with Gatorade and had ice chests available to keep our drinks cool. But even in the hottest and most humid weather, we were expected to manintain standards of productivity that were likley unrealistic for the conditions and personnel we had.
While FedEx Ground never used temps, turnover was extremely high. I saw many people work there for mere weeks before either being fired or simply leaving, likely out of frustration with the inconsistent hours. It might actually make good business sense to have high turnover; once an employee becomes eligible for vacation, they are now being paid, but not contributing to the all-important throughput, paid holidays mean the same thing.
I will say I could see the job having appeal for one group of people, and I'm sure there were a few who worked at the hub. FedEx Ground was one of the few companies that did pay a decent wage that did not, at the time I was there, conduct any sort of pre-employment drug testing. Tests were required if there was an injury, but that may have merely been an incentive for employees not to report injuries. I'm sure that word got around the 'stoner' community that FedEx was a good place to make the money needed to feed their habit.
Too many people there simply had to 'grin and bear it'. A lot of them likely couldn't get hired anywhere except a warehouse or distribution center. Also, especially in an economy like this current one, people can easily get 'stuck', not using the skills that may have acquired through college, etc. You could advance, but you had to be able to adopt the mentality that the packages were more important than the people who worked there. How else do you explain why someone with a Bachelor's Degree, solid attendance record, and strong work ethic, couldn't advance?
My termination in January 2011 may have come at a good time. I had in the back of my mind thought of doing the one thing that may have sent a message to the managers and executives. I was going to get in touch with the Teamsters.
Pushed To The Limits--Then Pushing Back
- The Maddow Blog - 'The Grapes of Wrath' Is Not a Business Model
MSNBC's Rachael Maddow comments on the situation at Amazon.com.
- Amazon Forced Employees To Work Brutal Hours In 100 Degree Warehouse Or Face Termination
From 'Think Progress' ". . . workers at an Amazon warehouse in Pennsylvania were forced to work brutal hours in 100 degree temperatures. . . "
- Amazon Promises Chill in Pa. Warehouse--Shelf Awareness
After a piece in the Allentown 'Morning Call'. Amazon agreed to install air conditioning in several of its East Coast fulfillment centers.