Worker’s Correspondence: Rhode Island Management Imposes Mandatory Overtime During Peak Season

By Rekia Amoni 

In Rhode Island, Amazon management of the DRI1 facility has announced mandatory overtime shifts for Mega cycle workers for the peak season, from November 29 to December 29. According to Amazon managers, the Mandatory Overtime (MET) shifts, which can be announced within 24 hours of workers’ shift, is based around market demand, tied to when there is a huge increase in volume due to holiday season or a new product on the market.

If workers miss or do not show up, they can face the penalty of ‘gaining points’.  Full time workers are expected to work up to fifty hours this week and sixty hours the next two weeks. For workers with thirty hours a week, mandatory overtime raises their hours to 40 hours one week, and fifty hours the next two.  Management initiated this policy rather than hire more workers for the megacycle and spreading out shifts throughout the day.

Management peddles that it’s better to increase the workload of the currently overstretched workforce rather than hire new workers. In order to encourage workers not to strike and come to work, managers have announced a $300 dollar bonus for full time workers and $150 dollar bonus for part time workers.

Many workers see through these attempts as management has repeatedly given them false hope before, making false and misleading promises regarding bonuses and wage increases. Workers are still upset about the lack of hazard pay while COVID-19 cases have surged.

When Amazon announced bonuses of $500 dollars in June, many workers were pleased, but when the checks came, it amounted to about $330 dollars after taxes. As one Haitian worker told Tribune, “In my country when they say they are going to give you a bonus of five hundred dollars they give you the exact amount. They don’t say they are going to give you five hundred and then give you three hundred and thirty.”

Other workers are upset because of the strain of juggling other jobs, familial duties, and school. When workers have told management about these concerns they have been told to just use their Unpaid Time or Paid Time Off. But for many workers if they miss another shift they face being fired.

One worker told Tribune, “I might just have to quit, they do not respect that I have a second job and that I have online classes.”

Even with overtime pay and the bonus, it does not cover the physical strain of the work, especially when workers are expected to stow 250 packages an hour. As another worker expressed to Tribune, in a sentiment broadly felt by the workers, “working sixty hours is too much.”

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