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Amazon forced employees to endure hard conditions while at work

By: David Gerber,  Contributing Writer

‘Looking for a fun, fast paced warehouse position?” You may have certainly just found it.

Did I mention you could sweat off a few pounds along with making a buck? No I did not, and neither did Amazon when posting this on the web looking to hire people to fill the void in their extreme working conditions., the world’s largest online retailer, has reportedly been pushing its employees to the breaking point in order to gain an edge. A new report by the Morning Call reveals that workers at an Amazon warehouse in Pennsylvania, located in Allentown,  were forced to work brutal hours in 100 degree temperatures and were constantly threatened with termination if their productivity waned.

Brutal work related stories taken from various individuals employed at the warehouse depict work conditions that make one flashback to situations related to gang slavery from the antebellum days in pre Civil War America.

Here is a gasping story from a 50 year old man hired as a picker, a common position in a shipping warehouse.

“At the beginning, I thought I was doing really well,” says the unnamed employee. “I never missed a day, was never sick, never came in late. I was the model employee. But after a while, I could only achieve a certain rate and I couldn’t go any faster. It was just brutal.”

He said he was expected to pick 1,200 items in a 10-hour shift, or one item every 30 seconds.

“The worst part was getting on my hands and knees 250 to 300 times a day,” he said.

Not working fast enough, or failing to “make rate,” is a common reason employees got disciplinary points, those interviewed said. Workers are expected to maintain a rate, measured in units per hour, which varies depending on the job and the size of inventory being handled.

A popular complaint amongst those interviewed was the intense heat they experienced while working at the Amazon warehouse. Sometimes the heat inside of the building could supersede 100 degrees. Although an extreme condition existed, workers persisted through whatever pain they were enduring in fear of getting fired if they did not meet their quotas or stopped working to take a break.

During an extreme heat related occurrence a security guard at the Amazon warehouse called OSHA and said the temperature exceeded 110 degrees. The guard reported seeing two pregnant women taken to nurses and that Amazon would not open garage doors to help air circulation.

Another 15 people were transported from an Amazon warehouse to hospitals for further treatment, according to Cetronia, an ambulance service provider in Upper Macungie Township where a large number of warehouses are concentrated, but none was in critical condition.

On June 9, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), conducted and investigation of the Lehigh Valley Amazon warehouse after receiving word and complaints on its conditions.

The agency recommended that Amazon reduce temperatures and humidity in the warehouse, but did not give a target temperature. The agency also recommended that Amazon provide employees hourly breaks in a cool area, inform workers and supervisors of the actual heat index or temperature so that they can increase monitoring as it gets hotter, and provide personal fans at each work station.

“Several conditions and practices were observed which have the potential to adversely impact on employee safety and health,” OSHA’s area director Jean Kulp said in a letter to Amazon.

OSHA said it had no jurisdiction over the complaint about workers getting disciplinary points for leaving on hot days.

Back in July, Amazon issued a thank you message to Gov. Tom Corbett and the PA legislature for their decision to not tax online retailers, which explains why they constructed warehouse sites throughout PA.

“Supporting the growth of Pennsylvania’s economy and specifically the creation of secure jobs for our residents is a high priority,” said Kelli Roberts, a spokeswoman for Governor Tom Corbett.

“This begins with the responsible state budget that does not raise taxes and the passage of tort reform.  Both give business the stability they need to stay, relocate and grow in the commonwealth.”

Instead of hiring a permanent workforce that expects raises and benefits, Amazon keeps a revolving door of temporary workers that it treats as dispensable cogs. Turnover is high and many workers don’t last more than a few months. Few temporary workers are ever hired full time — they’re just pushed harder to work faster until they are terminated or quit. Amazon has been plagued by lawsuits and allegations of employee abuse for years now.

10 Responses

  1. Things are showing that Amazon is pushing employees to hard conditions and also threatening. Really this is very bad the way they treat the warehouse employees. I heard that Publix will take care of their employees very well. check it out for Publix pro app for more info.

  2. I am pregnant and baby is due in 4 months and I just got a job at amazon warehouse when it’s time to have my baby can I go back to work or will I be fired. How does that work

  3. Amazon does not want a union at the Middletown Delaware site so Managers, and hr can verbally abuse lie to and fire employees without a just cause. Amazon is an unsafe dishonest immoral company . The upper management and hr do not follow Amazon company rules and are rude and disrespectful.

  4. I worked at Amazon in Middletown Delaware for 2 years . I loved my job worked hard then I was lied to by hr an management and fired without being warned and was not given a fair chance for an appeal as written in the Amazon rules. My opinion is Amazon is a dishonest company.

  5. Sounds like 3rd world working conditions. The decent job they have are nor being contracted out so they won’t have to give vacation pay, work comp, unemployment, 401k or health ins. Put them on the same list as Walmart.

  6. Micheal
    I love my job at Amazon. Yes they do work you hard and yes they do expect you to do 100%. If you do not have a good work eithic and if you are now a type a personality it could be a challenge. Night shift works 12 hour shifts in November till about January and they don’t just send you home they ask you if you want to VTO ( voluntary time off) its up to you if you leave. And no they will not pay you to leave. It sound to me like you don’t like moving that fast.

    Matthew ,
    Well I’m sorry you feel that way but you must have known that it might be a possibility that you might not get hired. They also do a drug screen so there had to be some thing they seen that they did not like. That is why you stay on the right side of the law and you would not have to worry with things like this.
    Don’t be blaming Amazon for what you did that is all you.

  7. It’s one thing to find out about workers being abused in China to make iPhones (I don’t own one)–but its completely different to find out that American workers are being abused right here on U.S. soil. I am considering how much shopping I do at Amazon. Sounds like it should go down to $0.

    And wouldn’t you know they are constructing a warehouse not far from my home in Texas. Unlike Pennsylvania, my purchases are subject to state sales tax.

  8. Here is another thing they screwed up! I was hired to work in the new middletown, de warehouse, and I was honest that I had a criminal background from the beginning. Now I know that I did the crime, but I also did my time and I was just a boy when I did the crime. It has been years.

    After promising me employment, and advising me to put my notice in at my current job, amazon emails me to say that I have been rejected due to my record…..

  9. I work in a warehouseKS owned by in lenexa KS. Not only do they over work us with 12 hour shifts but they continue to cut Saturdays hours without advance notice. People tend to budget on their scheduled hours. Now my child needs food. Thanks Amazon

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