Amazon workers are sounding the alarm about worsening conditions at warehouses despite Amazon’s history of retaliation. In the last year alone, injury rates at facilities have skyrocketed, increasing almost 20%. Amazon injures workers at twice the industry average. And then it discards them, churning through workforces in communities across the country. We need Congress and regulators to take immediate action to ensure worker safety. Join workers in the fight to end Amazon’s high-tech sweatshop conditions.
Workers Speak Out
Amazon Hurts Working People
Amazon’s business model is designed to churn through workers and punish anyone who might speak out. Amazon’s grueling system monitors workers’ speed or rate, tracks their movements each second, and imposes a constant threat of termination.
Amazon claims to simply monitor workflow — but in reality, surveillance and quotas are used to control physical movements and discipline workers, dictate when or if they can use the bathroom, and have been used to retaliate against worker organizing. A recent investigation in Washington State concluded that this high-pressure system violates the law.
The majority of warehouse workers are Black and Latinx, and these communities bear the brunt of Amazon’s abuse of power.
Amazon Harms Workers
The second largest private employer in the U.S., Amazon uses a system of surveillance and punishment to extract every ounce of productivity it deems possible. Its system monitors workers’ speed or rate and tracks their movements in one second increments using a metric called time off task. This system determines everything from when or if workers can use the bathroom to whether or not workers keep their jobs. This kind of tracking and punishment destroys bodies, minds, and futures.
Amazon Discards Workers
Amazon engineered a system to churn through workers. It discards injured and burnt out workers by the thousands. In 2019 alone, Amazon cycled through over a half a million workers. This is not happenstance. Rooted in practices going back to plantations, Amazon’s model accounts for continuous hiring and firing of workers––anything to keep up the backbreaking pace of work. The cost of this exploitative model is paid by workers, their families, and the public at large. Unchecked, Amazon will churn through entire workforces in communities across the country.
Amazon Silences Workers
Amazon monitors and tracks everything from workers’ social media accounts to their bodies to their physical locations. Amazon workers aren’t managed, they are heavily policed. This extensive policing and surveillance threatens workers’ organizing and right to take collective action to address dangerous workplace conditions.
Amazon has a pattern of targeting this oppressive system against Black workers. During the height of the pandemic, Amazon fired several Black workers who spoke out for safe, COVID compliant work conditions. Amazon has also tried to disrupt unionization efforts led by Black workers in Staten Island and Bessemer, even violating the law. Today, Amazon is attempting to deny workers their rights by refusing to accept the union victory in Staten Island.
In 2021, then CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, acknowledged the high worker injury rates and promised to invest in safety. He went as far as pledging to make Amazon the “Earth’s Best Employer.” Since then, Amazon injury rates have worsened as the tech giant intensified its commitment to growth at the expense of workers. Amazon has still not remedied unsafe workplace conditions or high injury rates. Its facilities remain the most dangerous in the industry.
- 38,334 workplace injuries at Amazon facilities in 2021
- 49% of all injuries in the industry took place at Amazon facilities
- 28% more likely to get injured working at a robotic facility than non-robotic facility
- 37% of injured workers reported managers pressured them to return to work
We Need to Stop Amazon
Workers are fighting back and demanding the government step in to protect workers’ rights. Together we must hold Amazon accountable, get justice for workers, and mandate the end of the high-tech sweatshop model. Amazon’s competitors have begun to adopt similar surveillance systems in an effort to remain competitive. As corporate giants battle over market share, workers are subjected to inhumane conditions and practices. It’s incumbent upon regulatory agencies to do everything within their power to protect worker rights.
Join workers in calling on lawmakers, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Department of Labor (DOL), National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and Department of Justice (DOJ) to put the following measures in place:
End the high-tech sweatshop model
Congress should enact laws that restrict unsafe quotas and constant surveillance to ensure that workers are protected from abusive conditions.
Investigate Amazon’s abuses
Agencies tasked with safeguarding workers should work together to investigate Amazon for these widespread, systematic, and long-standing abuses, including: injuries, retaliation, and discrimination.
Modernize regulation and enforcement
As evidence mounts that pervasive surveillance and automated management can erode worker rights and working conditions, agencies should update and strengthen standards and enforcement to ensure Amazon’s model does not become standard.
Workers Rise Up
Amazon workers are speaking out and taking collective action to improve working conditions and protect against tech-driven exploitation. Workers are putting themselves on the line to push Amazon and lawmakers to make changes that will benefit workers across industry sectors and society at large. We seek to fortify workers rights, end dangerous workplace surveillance, and establish guidelines that prevent technology from being used to undermine workplace health and safety. Click here to join Amazon workers.