Democratic Senator Introduces First Federal Bill to Regulate Amazon’s Labor Practices and Quotas

Democratic Senator Ed Markey from Massachusetts introduced new rules for warehouse employers like Amazon, who often push their workers to work faster without enough breaks, which can lead to more injuries.

The bill, called the Warehouse Worker Protection Act, is the first national attempt to regulate how warehouses set productivity goals. Some states, like California, New York, Washington, and Minnesota, have already passed similar laws.

This bill would make employers tell workers more about their productivity goals and what happens if they don’t meet them. It also says employers must give workers at least two days’ notice before changing these goals or how they watch workers.

Senator Ed Markey introduced the Warehouse Worker Protection Act to regulate productivity quotas.

The bill wants to stop companies from using certain tough productivity goals, like the “time off task” rule used by Amazon. This rule tracks how much time a worker isn’t scanning items while working. Workers say this rule makes their jobs harder and that it’s used to keep an eye on them.

Senator Markey, who’s on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, spoke about the bill at a press conference. He said, “Amazon has a system that makes workers do too much too fast. They don’t even tell workers what they need to do to keep their jobs. Then they fire workers who can’t do the impossible.”

Democratic Senator Introduces First Federal Bill to Regulate Amazon's Labor Practices and Quotas
Some workers report injuries and blame Amazon’s demanding work pace for accidents.

Amazon’s way of setting productivity goals for its workers has been criticized a lot. The company, one of the biggest employers in the U.S., says it doesn’t have set quotas but instead uses “performance expectations.” They say these include how well teams at a site are doing. Amazon also says it gives workers enough breaks.

According to Amazon, they use a “time logged in” policy to see if workers are working when they should be. Amazon spokesperson Steve Kelly said workers can see how well they’re doing anytime and that managers help workers who are struggling.

However, some Amazon workers say they don’t understand how their productivity goals are set, and that they get in trouble if they don’t meet them.

Bill aims to increase transparency and prevent harmful quotas like “time off task”.

They say these goals are often decided by computer programs. The government agency OSHA said in January 2023 that Amazon was making workers work too fast, which led to more safety risks.

OSHA and the U.S. Attorney’s Office are looking into conditions at some Amazon warehouses. The Department of Justice is checking if Amazon is reporting injuries accurately. Amazon disagrees with these claims.

Wendy Taylor, who works at an Amazon warehouse in Missouri, spoke at Senator Markey’s press conference. She said she and others are asking for more clarity about productivity goals.

Taylor mentioned an incident where she fell and hurt herself at work, blaming it on Amazon’s demanding work pace. She added, “We work hard to ship things fast, but we don’t get the care we need when we get hurt.”

Sajda Parveen
Sajda Parveen
Sajda Praveen is a market expert. She has over 6 years of experience in the field and she shares her expertise with readers. You can reach out to her at [email protected]
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