Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Dispatch from the Front Lines: More Injuries in Amazon's "Safe America"

One reason it is hard to bamboozle me on the true state of working America is that before I became a lawyer, and then a law professor, I did 15 years of hard labor in working America. I've worked as a janitor, in warehouses, restaurants, and on airport tarmacs -- often as putative part-timer doing full time work without full benefits. I've been hurt on the job. And none of it as part of a social science experiment. It was my livelihood, and I didn't know if I'd ever make it out. So let's just say I'm a different kind of law professor when I evaluate labor and employment issues. Here's a little sunlight revealing what is going on in a workplace governed by America's second largest employer. If you thought nobody could make Walmart look like a safe employer consider this joint Atlantic/Reveal expose:

Amazon’s famous speed and technological innovation have driven the company’s massive global expansion and a valuation well over $800 billion. It’s also helped make Amazon the nation’s second-largest private employer behind Walmart, and its CEO, Jeff Bezos, one of the richest humans on Earth. Now an investigation by Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting has found that the company’s obsession with speed has turned its warehouses into injury mills.

Reveal amassed internal injury records from 23 of the company’s 110 fulfillment centers nationwide. Taken together, the rate of serious injuries for those facilities was more than double the national average for the warehousing industry: 9.6 serious injuries per 100 full-time workers in 2018, compared with an industry average that year of 4. While a handful of centers were at or below the industry average, Reveal found that some centers, such as the Eastvale warehouse, were especially dangerous. Dixon’s was one of 422 injuries recorded there last year. Its rate of serious injuries—those requiring job restrictions or days off work—was more than four times the industry average.

The full story from November's Atlantic is here.

Statistics and data are important, but sometimes (for whatever reason) they just don't line up with what any fool can see is truly unfolding on the ground. How much more do you have to see about what is going on at Walmart and Amazon, the number 1 and 2 private sector employers in the U.S. to understand that it is not safe out there?

Michael C. Duff

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