Amazon's Pa. Warehouse Was Hellish, Workers Say

Temps penalized for collapsing during heatwaves
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 21, 2011 8:09 AM CDT
An Amazon.com employee pulls a pallet of empty boxes past the book storage area at a warehouse in Nevada.   (AP Photo/Scott Sady)

(Newser) – Former workers at a vast Amazon warehouse in eastern Pennsylvania say the LeHigh "fulfillment center" was a hellish place to work, a lengthy exposé by the Allentown Morning Call finds. Workers—most of whom were employed by a temp agency instead of Amazon itself—say they had to endure brutal heat and relentless demands to increase productivity. During heat waves, paramedics were stationed outside the warehouse ready to treat dehydrated workers. Even in the hottest conditions, workers were "pushed harder and harder to work faster and faster until they were terminated, they quit or they got injured" and were replaced by an endless supply of temps, former warehouse workers say.

Amazon installed more fans in the warehouse only after a local emergency room doctor who had treated workers suffering heat stress declared it to be an unsafe environment and government inspectors were sent round. Many agency workers say they were promised permanent jobs with Amazon, which almost never materialized. "I never felt like passing out in a warehouse and I never felt treated like a piece of crap in any other warehouse but this one,” says a worker with a decade of warehouse experience who quit after a year with Amazon. “They can do that because there aren’t any jobs in the area." (Read more Amazon.com stories.)

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