Worker Correspondents: Miserable Working Conditions at Amazon Warehouses

Photo credit: Maryland GovPics

By a Former Employee at Amazon DPP7 in Sewickley, PA

In Amazon’s distribution centers, employees are held to unattainable standards while working in a very hazardous environment. The health and safety of workers is always a far lower priority than maximizing productivity, risking serious health problems for those involved.

I worked full-time at the DPP7 Distribution Center in Coraopolis as a warehouse associate for about six weeksconditions at this warehouse were subpar, to say the least. Temperatures in the warehouse frequently surpassed 90 degrees while us workers were pushed to our physical limits, which caused me to get heat exhaustion to the point of vomiting twice on my first day on the job.

The pace that was required of us was almost unattainable. Managers watched us on cameras to critique how we could be faster, and stopping for water or bathroom breaks would leave us far behind and make things much harder for our coworkers. There were often no managers around to step in if we needed a break, and not being able to get enough water made the heat even more dangerous.

The last task of the day was packing carts for delivery, and this was by far the hardest physical labor with a debilitatingly fast pace. I had to pull 50-pound bags from shelving units where a quarter of them were above my reach. I asked for instruction on proper body mechanics a few times from managers and safety, but it just wasn’t possible to keep up the quota while keeping the right form to avoid hurting myself. The other issue was with social distancing, which wasn’t possible as everyone had to run around in order to get their route done in time.

It felt impossible to achieve the goals that we were given, and physically debilitating to try. I didn’t feel like I mattered since it was just about the numbers, and I’d never meet them.

I didn’t have many opportunities to get to know my coworkers because I barely had time to eat and use the bathroom during the few breaks that I got. I did have a conversation with someone that had been there since that site opened. I asked why they hadn’t unionized, and she said that because all of our jobs are replaceable with technology, it wouldn’t be safe to push that. It was uncomfortable because I felt like she might have said something to management.

I think the reason so many people quit so quickly is the intense physical demand that they were never properly warned about in the hiring process. I was walking 25,000 steps in ten hours while lifting packages non-stop. It was more than a workout. The heat also definitely factored in my choice to quit—it was unbearably hot.

Overall, it was the worst job I’ve ever had. Even though I really need a job, I just can’t risk my body for a few bucks.

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