Amazon’s Shipping Warehouses Are Hellish Sweatshops, Apparently

By: 09.21.11  •  4 Comments
Do you enjoy buying stuff on the internet from online retail giants like Amazon? Who doesn’t, right? More often than not, it’s fast, cheap and hella convenient. What’s not to love?

Well, according to the Allentown (Pennsylvania) Morning Call, workers at Amazon’s Lehigh Valley warehouse are treated like you’d expect labor to be treated in places like China, forced to work long hours in extreme heat for wages barely above the legal minimum. Things were so bad, in fact, that Amazon had ambulances stationed on 24 hour standby outside the warehouse because the employees there, including pregnant women, were dropping frequently like proverbial flies when, fearing theft, they refused to open warehouse doors during a brutal heat wave. Instead, Amazon provided employees with free popsicles and bandanas to cool them off. And to think that people have been boycotting Walmart for years because of the way they treat employees! Working for Walmart sound like working at Yahoo in the mid-90s compared to working at an Amazon warehouse.

Reports the Morning Call:

Over the past two months, The Morning Call interviewed 20 current and former warehouse workers who showed pay stubs, tax forms or other proof of employment. They offered a behind-the-scenes glimpse of what it’s like to work in the Amazon warehouse, where temperatures soar on hot summer days, production rates are difficult to achieve and the permanent jobs sought by many temporary workers hired by an outside agency are tough to get.

Only one of the employees interviewed described it as a good place to work.

Workers said they were forced to endure brutal heat inside the sprawling warehouse and were pushed to work at a pace many could not sustain. Employees were frequently reprimanded regarding their productivity and threatened with termination, workers said. The consequences of not meeting work expectations were regularly on display, as employees lost their jobs and got escorted out of the warehouse. Such sights encouraged some workers to conceal pain and push through injury lest they get fired as well, workers said.

During summer heat waves, Amazon arranged to have paramedics parked in ambulances outside, ready to treat any workers who dehydrated or suffered other forms of heat stress. Those who couldn’t quickly cool off and return to work were sent home or taken out in stretchers and wheelchairs and transported to area hospitals. And new applicants were ready to begin work at any time.

Holy Jesus what a hellhole! And the sad thing is, in this economy, people are kind of forced to take these warehouse jobs — which are advertised as taking place in a “fun, fast-paced” environment — to feed their families and keep a roof over their heads. Even more appalling, Amazon hires most of these people through a temp agency, so they can then wash their hands of some of the responsibility.

But wait it get’s better…

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