California lawmakers passed a landmark bill on September 9 that requires warehouses to disclose productivity quotas and prohibits targets that violate workers’ health and safety codes.
The amended AB 701 passed the assembly by a vote of 52–19 and is currently sitting on the governor’s desk for approval.
The bill aims to protect warehouse workers at distribution centers like Amazon from productivity quotas that need to be met within a certain time frame, resulting in missed meals and bathroom breaks.
“We’ve heard disturbing stories of working conditions at Amazon’s warehouses that are forced to enforce dangerous work speeds,” said the bill’s author, AB701 Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzales (D-San Diego), in a statement. algorithms are used.
“Amazon is prompting workers to risk their bodies for next-day delivery while they cannot use the restroom without fear of retaliation. AB 701 provides workers with the necessary equipment and protection so that they can To be able to speak out against the health and safety abuses experienced in these warehouses and seek real relief.”
Advocates of the bill see the law as an opportunity to enforce work quotas as warehouse workers report high-speed labor tasks where they are forced to skip breaks.
“Thanks to AB 701, warehouse workers in places like Amazon will no longer be fired just to use the restroom in the middle of their shift,” Ron Herrera, president of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, said in a statement. “Workers can eventually make a living instead of having to travel to the emergency room.”
Yesenia Barrera, a former Amazon warehouse employee, shares her experience meeting the company’s high demand, which resulted in injuries.
“The job is actually very physically demanding. On top of the work we do all day, you know it takes a toll on the mental health of the worker,” Barrera said in an August 30 press conference. As workers, we’re constantly lifting. We’re bending, we’re reaching. We’re moving objects weighing up to 60 pounds, and that’s 10 hours a day, five days a week, and that doesn’t include mandatory overtime. . “
“This is where injuries start to escalate exactly when Amazon calls for it to peak… Anytime you don’t spend on an item, don’t move it around, it accumulates work time.” can cause injury, or it can lead to termination. Using the toilet when water is available can also result in a time off task. If you are cleaning your station’s time, time used against you.”
Barrera expressed that distressed workers are trying to move quickly to the warehouse so they don’t lose their jobs.
“I personally wound up at Amazon, trying to keep up with the pace of my work with Rate,” Barrera said. “The boxes trying to keep up with my workload were too much, and my scanner got stuck. My face hurt.”
Barrera explained that her manager contacted her after the incident to explain why she had stopped scanning products. She was taken to an on-site clinic and found a paper towel with cold water.
According to Barrera, he was not asked if he was well and was expected to return to the workplace.
“Amazon is keeping these practices, making these workers work at a faster pace, but it’s costing their bodies,” she said. “We are all here to ask our representatives to pass the Warehouse Worker Protection Act, to be able to make sure that warehouse workers are safe, to be able to make sure that there are going to be more safe and sustainable jobs. have been.”
Some business groups suggest that the bill is intended to boost labor organizing efforts.
Rachel Michelin, head of the California Retailers Association, suggests that while she supports accountability for workplace safety standards, the bill is too broad and lumps the entire warehouse industry together.
“If there is a business that is not meeting workplace standards, they should be held accountable, we do not disagree,” Michelin told NPR. “But do we need this broad, comprehensive law … that affects every aspect of the supply chain in California? I don’t think so.”
Amazon and the California Retailers Association were not immediately available for comment.
This News Originally From – The Epoch Times