When employees are disposable, high unemployment benefits the employers
Here are descriptions of working in Amazon’s shipping warehouses AND, perhaps, a peek into the bleak future of employment for your children and grandchildren in the Corporatist Hellscape that the GOP / Teaparty is pushing us to accept. Read below and you’ll see that when employees are disposable, high unemployment benefits the employers.
Keep in mind that in a Teaparty / GOP Perfect World, these ‘job growth’ ideas in the graphic above would be federally mandated.
From Inside Amazon’s Warehouse by Spencer Soper:
Temporary employees interviewed said few people in their working groups actually made it to a permanent Amazon position. Instead, they said they were pushed harder and harder to work faster and faster until they were terminated, they quit or they got injured. Those interviewed say turnover at the warehouse is high and many hires don’t last more than a few months.
The supply of temporary workers keeps Amazon’s warehouse fully staffed without the expense of a permanent workforce that expects raises and good benefits. Using temporary employees in general also helps reduce the prospect that employees will organize a union that pushes for better treatment because the employees are in constant flux, labor experts say. And Amazon limits its liability for workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance because most of the workers don’t work for Amazon, they work for the temp agency.
[…] One former temporary warehouse employee said he worked seven months before he was terminated for not working fast enough. In his 50s, he worked 10 hours a day, four days a week as a picker, plucking items from bins and delivering them to packers who put them in boxes for shipment. He would walk 13 to 15 miles daily, he estimated, and was among the oldest pickers.
“At the beginning, I thought I was doing really well,” he said. “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 warehouse is organized like a library. Bins labeled “A” were on the floor. Dim lighting in the warehouse in which he worked made it difficult for him to find items stored in the low bins, especially novels with script titles or CDs with small writing, he said. Often, he got on his hands and knees to find things in the low bin, and would crawl to other bins rather than continuously stoop and stand, he said.
From Amazon workers rediscover The Grapes of Wrath by Ezra Klein:
One day, the index “exceeded 110 degrees on the third floor.” A local emergency room doctor treated so many warehouse employees for heat exhaustion this summer that he called federal regulators to report an unsafe work environment. A security guard called the Occupational Safety and Health Administration after seeing two pregnant women taken to nurses.
[…] There were occasions in June and July, Soper reported, when “Amazon paid Cetronia Ambulance Corps to have ambulances and paramedics stationed at its two adjacent warehouses.” The company refused to cool the warehouse by opening the garage doors because managers feared it would lead to theft.
[…] In a more robust economy, Amazon would have to treat its employees better or they would simply leave to pursue other opportunities. […] Right now, there are about five unemployed Americans for every open job. In many regions and industries, that ratio is much higher, especially among unskilled workers. It might not be 100-to-1, but it’s close enough to ensure that the one who does get the job has little power. Orange handbills might have been replaced by e-mails and Monster.com, but the Joads would surely recognize the men and women competing to work in that hundred- degree heat, climbing over one another for the chance to support their kids.
From A visit to the Warehouse of Soul-Crushing Sadness by Mac McClelland:
[McClelland observed employees at an unnamed shipping facililty] Susie told me it’s pretty dispiriting to act as though her workers are as disposable as the products they’re shipping. But that’s just the way it is, she said. The logisticsclients aren’t interested in spending money on a better or more sustainable work culture. Nor do they need to. There are 100 people employed in the warehouse I visited, and Susie could fire every one of them today without costing her bosses a dime of lost profits. She has applications from hundreds of people ready to take the job.
(Links above via The Grapes of Wrath is not a business model)
You can see why corporations and their Republican politicians don’t like labor unions. With a union, there is NO WAY any of this would be happening. The bottom line is that the American consumer (really, worldwide consumers) need to decide what saving a few dollars actually entails along the way for the average worker. For my part, I’m not sure I’ll ever order anything from Amazon again.