International News

USA: Amazon’s disposable worker model exposed

Online retailer Amazon relies on an extreme high-churn model, continually replacing workers in order to sustain a dangerous and gruelling work pace, new research has concluded. The report from the US National Employment Law Project (NELP) cites data from the company’s own records which reveal ‘stunningly high injury rates’ in the retailer’s warehouses. “Our analysis of California county-level census data shows that when Amazon opens a fulfillment center, warehouse worker turnover in that county skyrockets,” the authors add. “The average turnover rate for warehouse workers in counties with Amazon fulfillment centers was 100.9 percent in 2017, the latest year for which data are available. In other words, more workers leave their warehouse jobs each year than the total number of warehouse workers employed in those counties. This is substantially higher than the turnover rates for warehouse workers overall in California and in the US, which are 83.0 percent and 69.8 percent, respectively.” They conclude: “Beyond the negative effects on workers’ health and safety, Amazon’s high-churn system creates other costs that are not borne by the company, potentially putting a strain on public services such as unemployment insurance, public assistance and public health insurance programmes and creating instability for workers, their families, and their communities. Policymakers should act immediately to ensure reasonable and sustainable workload expectations for California’s warehouse workers, who are overwhelmingly people of colour. Taking action on this issue is a crucial step towards providing healthy and safe working conditions for workers in an important and growing industry in California.”
Read more: Amazon’s disposable workers: High injury and turnover rates at fulfillment centers in California, executive summary and full report [pdf], National Employment Law Project, March 2020. Source: Risks 938.

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