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Do You Use Amazon?

Discussion in 'Political Discussion' started by Mrs.PatsFanInVa, Sep 21, 2011.

  1. Mrs.PatsFanInVa

    Mrs.PatsFanInVa PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #24 Jersey

    Personally, I didn't used to buy anything from them but that all changed when I got my Kindle. Lately I've been spending most of my "play" money on Kindle books......and then I read this yesterday and I'm definitely rethinking that whole thing.

    I don't know how well the good old boycott works, especially if it's not being done widespread.....but I also know I don't feel at all comfortable sending them my money anymore, either.

    So, how 'bout it? Do reports like this make you more or less likely to keep patronizing businesses which practice such archaic working conditions or does it make no difference to you?

    I've cut and pasted a few paragraphs - but I'd suggest reading the entire article - it's really scary, especially if it's signifying what the "new" workplace in our stuttering economy is going to turn into.

    Over the past two months, The Morning Call interviewed 20 current and former warehouse workers who showed pay stubs, tax forms or other proof of employment. They offered a behind-the-scenes glimpse of what it's like to work in the Amazon warehouse, where temperatures soar on hot summer days, production rates are difficult to achieve and the permanent jobs sought by many temporary workers hired by an outside agency are tough to get.

    Only one of the employees interviewed described it as a good place to work.

    Workers said they were forced to endure brutal heat inside the sprawling warehouse and were pushed to work at a pace many could not sustain. Employees were frequently reprimanded regarding their productivity and threatened with termination, workers said. The consequences of not meeting work expectations were regularly on display, as employees lost their jobs and got escorted out of the warehouse. Such sights encouraged some workers to conceal pain and push through injury lest they get fired as well, workers said.

    During summer heat waves, Amazon arranged to have paramedics parked in ambulances outside, ready to treat any workers who dehydrated or suffered other forms of heat stress. Those who couldn't quickly cool off and return to work were sent home or taken out in stretchers and wheelchairs and transported to area hospitals. And new applicants were ready to begin work at any time.

    An emergency room doctor in June called federal regulators to report an "unsafe environment" after he treated several Amazon warehouse workers for heat-related problems. The doctor's report was echoed by warehouse workers who also complained to regulators, including a security guard who reported seeing pregnant employees suffering in the heat.

    Both permanent and temporary employees are subject to a point-based disciplinary system. Employees accumulate points for such infractions as missing work, not working fast enough or breaking a safety rule such as keeping two hands on an inventory cart. If they get too many points, they can be fired. In the event of illness, employees have to bring in a doctor's note and request a medical waiver to have their disciplinary points removed, those interviewed said.

    Amazon's founder and CEO, Jeffrey Bezos, keeps climbing the ranks of the world's wealthiest people. Forbes magazine estimated his net worth to be $18.1 billion this year, making him the 30th wealthiest person in the world. That wealth is tied to the value of Amazon stock, which has grown about eightfold to nearly $240 per share over the past five years.


    Allentown: Inside Amazon.com warehouse workers complain of brutal conditions - mcall.com


    The article goes on the explain, in detail, how Amazon hires "temporary" workers - but that they stress the fact that they "often" turn into full-time positions with the company - however it seems that as little as 3 out of every 100 temporary workers end up being hired - most are terminated before their temporary contract is up. Temporary hires do not get benefits and cost Amazon much less to employ.

    It also explains that Amazon allows a worker to go home if they become ill from the heat - which often reaches 115 degrees in the spring, summer and fall months....but if they do not have a doctor's note the next day they get "points." They are forbidden to talk to the media or they get points. If they are seen keeping two hands on a cart they get points. If they are too slow they get points. Too many points in a short time gets you fired and escorted out of the building. Overtime is mandatory. The doors to the warehouse are not allowed to be opened and there is no fresh air circulation allowed due to the possibility of "theft."

    Call me a crazy loon liberal - but doesn't this all sound pretty "sweatshop," to anyone else?
     
  2. Harry Boy

    Harry Boy Look Up, It's Amazing PatsFans.com Supporter

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    They should move to Cuba.
     
  3. DarrylS

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    To me, on a fixed income, what is not to like.. excellent price, excellent return policy, excellent service, free two day shipping and no sales tax.

    I am sorry to hear about the workers, but they have choices.. organizing is one of them. If conditions are so bad, have they contacted OSHA????
     
  4. Mrs.PatsFanInVa

    Mrs.PatsFanInVa PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #24 Jersey

    I agree...they have all those things - but apparently, just as in goods acquired from Third World Countries, they come at the expense of the workers.

    Do they? According to the article, as fast as one worker passes out from the heat and is taken away by ambulance they have a stand-by pool of prospective temporary workers from which they immediately replace the ill one.

    I should add that the temps come from an agency, btw. They do not work directly for Amazon. They are virtually promised permanent positions with Amazon but they rarely actually get them. Because they do not work for Amazon, the company is not legally bound to provide them with any sort of benefits at all - and that includes workmans comp., health benefits and unemployment insurance. It also prevents them from organizing a union since they are hired for a specific amount of hours only - and those that actually last the specified amount of hours are generally let go at the end of that time frame with the information that they can reapply in several months. The constant flux of employees means that there is no one there long enough to organize anything.

    OSHA was notified - both by employees and a doctor at the nearest emergency room. After their inspection the company installed 13 additional fans in the warehouse, planned to install a cooling system and temporarily hired emergency medical personnel to work on-site, Forney wrote.

    No employees were penalized for leaving work early due to heat-related symptoms, Forney wrote. Amazon has an automatic record-keeping system that gives employees demerits if they leave early, he wrote.

    "We went in and manually changed each employee's time, so we did not have any employee receive demerit points for leaving the site for a heat-related illness," Forney wrote.

    OSHA issued recommendations to Amazon Aug. 18 about how it could improve its heat-stress management plan and closed its inspection.

    "Several conditions and practices were observed which have the potential to adversely impact on employee safety and health," OSHA's area director Jean Kulp said in a letter to Amazon.


    According to workers, however, nothing much has changed.

    Really, I urge you to read the entire article. It's long, I know, but it's worth the time.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2011
  5. khayos

    khayos In the Starting Line-Up

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    But... But... But... how will the state get REVENUES??????
     
  6. Harry Boy

    Harry Boy Look Up, It's Amazing PatsFans.com Supporter

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    God Damn Haliburton
     
  7. Mrs.PatsFanInVa

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    #24 Jersey

    What I find alarming is the thought that, in our desperation to "create jobs," that jobs such as these are the wave of the future.

    We cut back on regulations, we cut back on government intervention such as OSHA, we talk about lowering the minimum wage - couple that with the desperation of job-seekers who've exhausted their unemployment benefits, who have families to feed and bills to pay and who's going to monitor what goes on in the workplace or dare to report how bad it is?

    The owner of Amazon has rapidly risen to be the 30th wealthiest person in the world with a net worth reported to be $18.1 billion.

    This is the "job creator," sure.....but look what kind of jobs he's creating.

    Is this what we really want?
     
  8. DarrylS

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    Have always contended that they should collect sales tax.. along with Ebay. Just because I do not pay them, does not mean that I should not.
     
  9. khayos

    khayos In the Starting Line-Up

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    In Massachusetts, you can elect to pay tax for internet transactions on your state income tax form...
     
  10. DarrylS

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    Glad that you have that opportunity in that state, not sure if it is the same in RI... probably will not pay retroactively, but would not bytch and moan if they collected taxes on each purchase.
     
  11. mcgraw_wv

    mcgraw_wv In the Starting Line-Up

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    Ok, I understand their struggles, but what about people who work in Steal Mills? They work in factories where the heat is unbearable...

    It's part of the job, you either educate yourself so you don't have to work manual labor in a factory, or you change jobs.

    There were no guns used to force people to work.

    ---

    I don't regularly use Amazon, but this would not stop me from using it.

    Does the OP still shop at WalMart?
     
  12. chicowalker

    chicowalker Pro Bowl Player

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    OT:
    1) Not sure if other states do the same, but California expects people to track and pay any sales tax not collected by vendors. The state sometimes sends individuals bills for estimated sales tax owed. Seems onerous to me when it's relatively small items.

    2) One thing I never hear in these debates over sales taxes is that the intended purpose of the tax is. To me, that would go a long way to resolving whether sales tax should be paid on internet and other "out of state" transactions. Does the government admit it's general revenue? or is there another intended purpose that actually involves the vendor's presence (roads, infrastructure, etc.)? If the latter, the states in question would have a much weaker argument.
     
  13. chicowalker

    chicowalker Pro Bowl Player

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    There's one critical difference -- pretty sure the conditions in a steel mill are inherent to the steel mill's performance. There's no reason a warehouse can't have proper ventilation to help prevent extreme temperatures.

    Also, neither educating oneself nor changing jobs is always an option.

    You're the kind of extreme that makes libertarians seem insane -- like any extreme, really.
     
  14. PatsWSB47

    PatsWSB47 Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    #12 Jersey

    You mean congress?
     
  15. DarrylS

    DarrylS PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    The lobbyists or the congressmen/women????
     
  16. Mrs.PatsFanInVa

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    #24 Jersey

    I grew up on the South Side of Chicago. Everyone I knew worked for the mills. My youngest son is still involved in the industry. And yes, it's hot - but no, the conditions are not the same. Most of the mills are unionized - and they get regular breaks - and the hotter the temperature, the more frequent and longer the breaks are. They aren't "temporary" employees - they have long term, full time jobs, complete with insurance, benefits, retirement, 401Ks. They have a medical department on site - not an ambulance waiting to take you away to the ER when and if you "fall out."

    It's an easy thing to say, mcgraw, "educate yourself," but it's not always an easy thing to do - and it's not always possible. Some people just don't have the means - emotionally, physically or intellectually to "get educated." Besides, there aren't that many jobs for "educated" people anymore, either, are there? There are a ton of white collar workers, highly educated, who've been affected by this economy.

    No, there were no guns used.......but there are other forces at work, just as immediate and just as driving. There's death by gunshot, sure, but there's also death by starvation, by homelessness, by illness in the family - all things which force people into taking jobs they cannot really do under conditions no one should be expected to work under - and when an employer takes advantage of these conditions to lower wages and lower safety precautions and to remove all reasonable job security they're just as evil.

    Nor would I have expected you to.

    A better question would be - Did the OP ever shop at Walmart?

    And the answer would be - once, last year, when my mother-in-law had a stroke and we were stuck in NJ without a change of clothes and the only store we passed between my mother-in-law's condo and the hospital was a WalMart.

    I bought a pair of socks, a bra, underpants and a shirt for myself and the same thing, minus the bra, for the Mr.

    Other than that, I've never even been inside one.

    I think God will forgive me.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2011
  17. DarrylS

    DarrylS PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Every time you go in Wal Mart 16 little bunnies and 14 cute puppies die;););)
     
  18. Tunescribe

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    #61 Jersey

    One solution might be to not buy from Amazon directly but from the many other vendors they list for the same items. Amazon's prices usually are higher anyway.
     
  19. Patters

    Patters Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Aren't you a Libertarian? If so, doesn't that mean you have some faith that employers will treat their employees with a little bit of compassion? Don't you think there's something awfully callous about giving people such terrible work conditions that you keep paramedics parked outside? In a bad economy, when work is scarce, there would be downward pressure on employers to lower prices (in order to compete) and in the absence of their own morality, under Libertarianism there would be nothing stopping them from making the work conditions even worse. In fact, that's exactly what happened during our Libertarian phase from around 1900 to 1930. Your views seem to be completely unsympathetic to working people, affording them no protections except the right to find other jobs (which is often not an option).
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2011
  20. Mrs.PatsFanInVa

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    #24 Jersey

    That'll work..... but I think I'm screwed on the Kindle thing, tho. I don't think any other ebook will download to a Kindle.

    Damn it anyhow....I really LIKED that thing.
     

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