Goris reports that temperatures continually exceeded over 100 degrees in the warehouse. "I never felt like passing out in a warehouse and I never felt treated [so terribly] in any other warehouse but this one," Goris said.Goris is not the only one dissatisfied with this particular warehouse. Interviews with 20 other warehouse workers revealed similar experiences with the harsh work conditions. They reported that they were enforced to work at an unsustainable pace in extremely brutal heat.
The employees were commonly threatened with termination if they did not meet the high productivity expectations. The heat was so intense that Amazon arranged for there to be ambulances outside of the warehouse in order to treat employees that had fainted. On a hot summer day, it was not uncommon for an employee to be taken out of the facility in a wheelchair or on a stretcher.Catherine Ruckelshaus, legal co-director of the National Employment Law Project, thinks that Amazon has been getting away with these harsh work conditions because people are eager to gain employment at whatever job they can due to the weak economy. Therefore, the announcement of the opening of the Pennsylvania warehouse, where Goris worked, was seen as particularly good news.
Megan Couch, an Amazon spokeswoman, said: "Our employees' safety is a top priority for us, and the focus on employee safety from Amazon leadership is impressive. We support our employees with a variety of programs to ensure their well-being, including light duty and leaves of absence."Amazon followed the proposals of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in order to improve work conditions.
The proposals included adding fans, giving more breaks, and keeping the employees more informed about the heat index.Amazon has also been entangled in a disagreement with California lawmakers over a mandate to collect sales tax on online purchases made by California customers. However, Amazon recently agreed on backing a second law in which they would start collecting California sales taxes starting September 15th. At a bill signing ceremony, Amazon Vice President Paul Misener said that the company planned on creating 10,000 jobs and investing $500 million to build new distribution warehouses in California.
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