By Mike Talavera
Since October, the Rhode Island Amazon Warehouse management has implemented a new labor tracking system, claiming that this new system stops workers from “stealing” company time.
Instead of workers clocking out for lunch or for break, there is now a manager waiting to scan their badges before and after the break. This strict monitoring measure effectively shortens breaks and keeps workers from having any relief.
This new system goes beyond breaks, where every new task a worker engages in at the workplace is now tracked by management. When workers are done unloading trucks, their badges are scanned. Whenever they switch from one task to another, their badges are scanned. And if workers are not on task, they are reprimanded.
This surveillance often has a racist aspect. According to one Black worker, he and his fellow Black workers are often harassed at the last hour of the shift even when all of the work is finished. Instead of being allowed to sit and talk to their fellow workers, they are told to clean the warehouse space. In one case, a manager by the name of Milania Morales, a manager known for her cruelty, actively tracked these Black workers and wrote down every area they cleaned.
The managers use the tracking system as justification for increasing workers’ productivity rates. As one worker turned supervisor notes, “This warehouse is different because it is a delivery center. Delivery centers, unlike Amazon’s [sorting] and fulfillment centers, do not usually fire workers for their work rates. But during the holidays they are actively checking workers’ productivity, and they will fire workers if they do not move as fast as management demands.”
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