'Increased pressure' | Amazon fined over questionable 'productivity quota' communication

Amazon fined over questionable 'productivity quota' communication

Amazon.com has been fined $5.9million by a California labour regulator for failing to properly inform workers of productivity quotas at two of its warehouses, including one where efforts to unionize are ongoing.

The fines, issued in May, were announced on Tuesday by the office of California Labor Commissioner Lilia Garcia-Brower.

A 2022 California law mandates that employers provide written descriptions of quotas to workers if they face discipline for not completing tasks at a specified speed.

The commissioner reported that Amazon violated this law nearly 60,000 times over a five-month period ending in March at its massive warehouses in Moreno Valley and Redlands, located outside Los Angeles.

Amazon spokesperson Maureen Lynch Vogel stated that the company is appealing the citations and denied that warehouse workers operate under fixed quotas.

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"At Amazon, individual performance is evaluated over a long period of time, in relation to how the entire site’s team is performing. Employees can — and are encouraged to — review their performance whenever they wish," Vogel said in a statement.

Criticisms of Amazon's alleged quota system have been central to a nationwide campaign to unionize its warehouses.

Workers at a New York City warehouse voted to join a union in 2022, while workers at other facilities in New York and Alabama have since voted against unionization.

A union filed a petition in 2022 to hold an election at the Moreno Valley warehouse, known as ONT8, but later withdrew it amid allegations of illegal union-busting activities by Amazon.

An administrative judge is scheduled to hold a hearing on these claims, which Amazon has denied, in August.

Garcia-Brower stated that Amazon's quota system is precisely what the California law was designed to prevent.

"Undisclosed quotas expose workers to increased pressure to work faster and can lead to higher injury rates and other violations by forcing workers to skip breaks," she said.

Congress is considering a Democratic-backed bill that would largely mirror the California law by requiring written notice of quotas and prohibiting quotas that prevent workers from taking breaks or using bathrooms.

Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts, one of the bill's sponsors, emphasized the necessity of this legislation, citing the fines against Amazon as a clear example of the need to address "punishing" quota systems.

"We need more than a patchwork of state laws," Markey said in a statement

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