Amazon touts high wages while ignoring issues in its warehouses

Though it offers $15 an hour, workers report injury claims denied, sweltering in warehouses and rising productivity demands

Workers at Amazon aren’t faring any better since Amazon enacted a $15 minimum wage last year. The company raised their wage in response to immense public pressure and criticism. Since then, Amazon has cited it as a defense of persisting criticisms.

In my latest article for the Guardian, I spoke with several workers at Amazon who explain the working conditions haven’t changed, and in many cases have worsened. Amazon warehouse workers in Charlotte, NC complain about lack of air conditioning, a worker in New Jersey was injured on the job and is currently fighting to receive workers compensation and medical care, and a worker in North Carolina received a large settlement from Amazon after boxes fell onto her and injured her in January 2019.

Several accounts didn’t make the story, but I wanted to share them with you here.

An Amazon warehouse learning trainer who is also in charge of a pack line said,

Safety is a joke, most of the time the safety person is not even in the office and they either give you water or ask if you have time off for an injury. They send you back to work and tell you to deal with it or use what limited time off you have. I have seen so much turn over that they now don’t hire directly through amazon anymore, it’s mostly done through temp companies and they have to work until they get hired on. I just stay for the great benefits they have for my kids other than that it’s all about about the managers having us workers put up great numbers so they get good bonuses and we are literally just a number. Safety takes a back seat to production numbers and getting priority packages out at certain times of the night. Safety only matters when the one person safety team does a walk through 1 time a week. 

An Amazon Prime Now Associate, who works in a packing facility on the West Coast that delivers same-day shipping products to Amazon customers, claimed Amazon’s scheduling service for Prime Now workers, Amazon Moment, doesn’t offer workers set schedules and keeps workers’ hours below 25 hours per week. 

“I've been working here for about two years. I get paid $15 an hour, can officially work a maximum of 25 hours a week, unless I contact a manager directly by phone or email, or show up asking for work one day, and a manager lets me work,” the worker said. They claimed managers are deterred from permitting workers to work over 35 hours a week. “No one who works my position, which easily make up over 90 percent of people who work here, gets raises,regardless of where we're working in the warehouse, unless we're promoted to very occasional openings as assistant site managers.”