Amazon Ramps Up Sweatshop Conditions in Warehouses with Tracking Bracelets, While Whole Foods Workers Revolt Under the Behemoth’s New Reign

Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos now holds the reins at Whole Foods. Photo Credit: Salon

Conditions in Amazon’s warehouses have been called “worse than Walmart” and are about to get even worse with wristbands that track workers’ every move and nudge their hands in the right direction when they make a mistake.

Meanwhile, the gigantic company is extending its “reign of terror” at Whole Foods, which it recently acquired, causing employees to cry on the job and managers to quit.

Amazon has a long, though hidden, history of ruthlessly intimidating workers, Salon reports.

“Amazon’s system of employee monitoring is the most oppressive I have ever come across,”  writes Simon Head in his book Mindless: Why Smarter Machines are Making Dumber Humans, which you can buy on Amazon by the way 😉

With its “state-of-the-art surveillance technology … Amazon tags its employees with personal satellite navigation computers that tell them the route they must travel … set target times for their warehouse journeys and then measure whether targets are met,” Head writes.

“All this information is available to management in real time, and if an employee is behind schedule she will receive a text message pointing this out and telling her to reach her targets or suffer the consequences.”

An employee at Amazon’s depot in Allentown, Pennsylvania, told Head she was fired shortly after a text message telling her she was unproductive for several minutes of her 11-hour shift.

Head also recounted the scandalous story of how Amazon preferred to have ambulances on hand for the inevitable heatstroke victims rather than pay to cool the Allentown warehouse, where temperatures regularly exceeded 100 degrees one summer.

On June 2, 2011, a warehouse employee contacted the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration to report that the heat index had reached 102 degrees in the warehouse and that 15 workers had collapsed. On June 10 OSHA received a message from an emergency room doctor saying he’d seen several patients with heat related injuries. On July 25, with temperatures inside the depot reaching 110 degrees, a security guard reported to OSHA that two pregnant women collapsed and were taken to a nursing station.

Still Amazon refused to turn on the AC or even open the loading doors to let fresh air circulate for fear of theft, while pushing employees to maintain their regular fast pace.

Calls to the ER became so frequent that ambulances and paramedics remained stationed at the depot all day for five days that summer.

It doesn’t look like things are going to get better anytime soon for Amazon employees, as the company just patented wristbands that even more thoroughly track their every move.

The new bracelets use vibrations to nudge warehouse workers in a different direction if they are off track. The goal is to make them more productive until robots can replace them altogether, The Guardian reports.

While Whole Foods workers haven’t been forced to stay on task with virtual handcuffs just yet, things haven’t been pretty for them either since Amazon took over.

The company requires Whole Foods’ managers to use “scorecards” to punish employees who fail to comply with the new inventory management system, Business Insider reports.

Employees are also subjected to pop quizzes twice a week, in which they are asked to recite their departments’ sales goals, top-selling items, previous week’s sales, and inventory details. Scores below 90% can result in firings.

One employee said Amazon has taken micro-management to a new level – “nano-management.”

“The stress has created such a tense working environment,” a supervisor at a West Coast Whole Foods store said. “Seeing someone cry at work is becoming normal.”

Team leaders, store team leaders, executive coordinators and even a regional vice president have quit as a result.

And, to top it all off, Amazon now wants to takeover American healthcare, using artificial intelligence to diagnose and treat patients.





19 responses to “Amazon Ramps Up Sweatshop Conditions in Warehouses with Tracking Bracelets, While Whole Foods Workers Revolt Under the Behemoth’s New Reign”

  1. Clover Avatar

    I know someone personally that works at Amazon and started at the bottom entry level and is moving up quickly. They say that there is not this huge pressure on employees to perform. They have a target amount of work to teach, but they say it is easily acheived. The specific routes that must be used are for safety. There are robot units that transport merchandise. They keep track of where people are to stop people from stealing.

    1. Brandi Avatar

      I currently work for this company and let me tell you, they’ve put me through hell and high water. Sure, the required goals that are set for you are easy to reach on a good day, but if you have a family emergency that eats up what you have off UPT(Unpaid Time Off) and your PTO(Paid Time Off) and you haven’t worked there long enough to use your vacation time, once you go negative on UPT, you get fired. So if you get sick with the flu one week after your family emergency and you don’t have the hours to cover it, you have to go to work. You’re still held to the same rate even though you are visibly ill. So going too slow for just two days could get you fired. Even if you vomit, they’ll send you to AMCare where there are only paramedics, if even that, and they’ll give you some Pepto and an ice pack for fifteen-twenty minutes. Then, it’s back to work you go. They don’t care about their employees. I got a work-related injury where I sprained my ACL and they refused to take me to the doctor. I had to go to AMCare every hour to put ice on my knee and go back to work. By the time I got off, I was in such agonizing pain that I had to TAKE MYSELF to the hospital and cried out in pain all the way there! My accident was caught on video and even though I was following all of the policies and procedures, they said they were still going to “dispute” the incident. They tried to tell me I had to wait a week or two before filing for workers comp. But I got a doctor’s opinion and filed the very next day. They’re not happy with me and refuse to cover my hospital visit since I didn’t get workers comp until the next day. Now, they’re trying to get me back in the warehouse at full-duty and hard physical labor because a state general practitioner said I was fine with nothing more than a physical examination even though my knee specialist says otherwise based on my MRI report!!! I have HAD IT with This bull shit company!! The only good thing I’ve ever heard of them doing for an employee who got hurt or sick was when one was diagnosed with advanced stage 3 cancer and paid all their medical bills until they passed away. I bet you everything I have that they only did it to make themselves look good. On a side note, they’re in trouble for tax evasion in Europe now! They’re an awful company that needs to be shut down or taken over by more responsible and understanding human beings. And the whole, “they’re replacing their paid laborers with robots” is 110% true. Don’t be fooled by their excuses as to why they do certain things. They can fully afford to accommodate EVERYONE including themselves to avoid theft. They just don’t want to do it. I would NEVER recommend working for this company. The only good things I ever got out of it was health insurance and being placed offsite at a place that I’m currently applying for now because the offsite place is a most wonderful organization that I wish to work for permanently. Sorry for such a long rant. Just thought I’d let everyone know.

      1. Elli Avatar

        I am so sorry that is terrible! I used to buy from Amazon but now I’m done! 🙁

  2. Joe Avatar

    Unionize get the Teamster in there stop this crazy company

    1. Philip Avatar

      Yeah, because unions ALWAYS make things better.

    2. Diane Avatar

      While a union may not solve all the problems at Amazon it would give us a fighting chance. Working there is a nightmare.

  3. Joe ross Avatar
    Joe ross

    Vote to unionize, Teamster

  4. Toby Avatar

    How do I share this on Facebook. It’s really important.

  5. David Avatar

    My son-in-law worked for them in Canada and from what he told me they are treated as slaves. Long hours, unrealistic expectations and next to no days off. I have not and will not support such a draconian company.

  6. J Taylor Avatar
    J Taylor

    If you choose to go to work for a huge corporation, especially in today’s climate, you can’t really expect ‘Mom and Pop’ care. This is sadly the direction our country has taken. Productivity over people. Also, I just want to add, who speaks for all of the kitchen help standing over hot grills for hours in 125* kitchens during the summer months @ minimum wage and no benefits?

  7. Joann LeRoy Avatar
    Joann LeRoy

    This article is poorly written. I do not see any fact-finding or any sources. What you do quote as fact is from seven years ago which can hardly be called relevant given that the company is under new leadership currently. Is the article in reference to Amazon warehouse conditions or Whole Foods, I am quite confused because they are very different and two separate companies under the same executive board. This piece feels very personal as opposed to an objective piece of news written by someone reporting which is journalism 101. I sincerely hope no one gets sued by this piece of slanted, well, I am not sure what you would call it because it is not an editorial piece nor is it news.

  8. Alison james Avatar
    Alison james

    Thanks, needed to know. I was thinking of applying.

  9. Cristin Avatar

    It is ok to have accountability and work ethic. It is also ok to remove people from the floor who don’t want to work…Union mentality is much different and clearly what you are looking for, but historically not a good thing. This article is entitlement mentality and shows why the entitlement generation is causing so many problems. You have to work hard to get what you want in life, it is ok not to have it handed to you, and having work goals you must meet is not illegal or bad…you know what your are signing up for. I really hope people don’t jump on your ban wagon and read between the lines.

  10. alesia wilkins Avatar
    alesia wilkins

    Thank goodness I clean out horse stalls for a living!

  11. V.Shankaran Avatar

    Now a days people want to become rich
    overnight without hard work and sinceareattempts
    The process of becoming rich overnight is not
    easy both for employer and employee.Torture to
    employee and by the employee are to be reduced.
    human and humanity pity have all gone to dust.

  12. V.Shankaran Avatar

    Why people are not adviced to take leave when not able to
    achieve to their targets as they physically become unfit.,
    due to extreme whether conditions. i feel fitness is more
    important than remuneration

  13. Bigdogs Avatar

    I’ve worked there for five Christmas seasons . No wristband, GPS tracker in scanner used…Security reasons. Goals can be met if you work steady. They give four weeks to adjust, and met goals. Never seen a person fall out. If issues happen it’s due to person not eating or hydration issues.

  14. Adrian Avatar

    I worked for these idiots I’ve day in Vancouver and I hope they go bankrupt. It’s like Dickensian London sweatshops. Too funny. I will not give them any business and looks like the same with WF

  15. javhd Avatar

    Nice Post. Thanks!