Amazon's Warehouse of Sadness and Horribleness

Have you read the story about the Amazon warehouse outside Allentown? You should! It’s not… good. In short, Amazon largely staffs that warehouse with temporary workers through an agency, dangling the prospect of being promoted to full-time employee. Then it parks ambulances outside for when they pass out from heat exhaustion. Then, when they don’t make quota, what with all the passing out, they’re often dismissed. (Yes, to be fair, some are promoted, and some do fine.) Hold on to your Kindles!

Here are the three most blood-boiling parts. (Your blood-boiling mileage may vary; it’s a very long story and there’s lots in it!

One hot day in June, [44-year-old Karen] Salasky said, she wasn’t feeling well. Her fingers tingled and her body felt numb. She went to the restroom. An ISS manager asked if she was OK, and she said no. She was taken by wheelchair to an air-conditioned room, where paramedics examined her while managers asked questions and took notes.

“I was really upset and I said, ‘All you people care about is the rates, not the well-being of the people,’” she said. “I’ve never worked for an employer that had paramedics waiting outside for people to drop because of the extreme heat.”

Supervisors told Salasky to go home and rest. She reported to an ISS office the next day to drop off medical paperwork, and she was asked to sign papers acknowledging she got irate and used a curse word on the day she suffered from the heat. She refused to sign the papers because she said she didn’t curse. A few days later, she called ISS and found out her assignment had been terminated.

And this:

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…. He said he was expected to pick 1,200 items in a 10-hour shift, or one item every 30 seconds…. “The worst part was getting on my hands and knees 250 to 300 times a day,” he said.

But the real winner is, stealthily, THIS.

On June 13, OSHA received a letter from Allen Forney, Amazon’s site safety manager. “On June 3, 2011, the Lehigh Valley area experienced unusual, extremely high temperatures which caused the heat index inside our building to reach a temperature above 95 degrees in a few areas of the building,” Forney wrote. “As a result of these high temperatures, 15 out of 1,600 employees experienced heat-related symptoms. Six of these employees were treated at a local hospital ER for non-work related medical conditions triggered by the heat….”

Oh, okay, those were NON-work related medical conditions simply “triggered” by heat exhaustion and passing out at work and stuff. DUDE? Dude. Duuuude.

Also the CEO of the temp staffing agency has a blog called “HR Ninja,” which is grounds for some kind of punishment.