Almost everyone has felt it: the anticipation of waiting for a treasured package’s delivery, checking the doorstep every day to see if it’s arrived. Amazon’s one click ordering feature feels like magic at your fingertips, because with one touch, you can have your desired product in 48 hours. But, I hate to break it to you; it isn’t magic, and Jeff Bezos isn’t Santa—unless Santa’s elves suffer unhealthy workshop conditions.
Since Amazon’s launch of Amazon Prime in 2005, a feature offering two-day shipping, the company has been aiming to further decrease this delivery period. According to their 2017 quarterly report, the service has accumulated over 100 million users who are supported by Amazon’s half a million employees.
It is clear that 19-year-old Liam Naughton, of West Roxbury, is a delighted Amazon customer as he snaps his fingers to describe their delivery speed. “Boom, your package is right there. It’s crazy fast.”
While customers are elated by Amazon’s service, workers are not as overjoyed. As of earlier this year, warehouse employees are speaking out against the mistreatment they endure while committing to exceptional customer service. As Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos makes approximately $275 million per day, according to Money Magazine, his employees complain of brutal working conditions. As Amazon prepares to open an office in Boston, and continues its warehouse operation in Dedham, it’s important to stand by our neighbors who already do, or soon will work for the company and demand better treatment for them.
One of these employees, Avelina, whose last name is being withheld per her request, witnessed someone “pass out because of dehydration” during her second week at Amazon. “I don’t think any day I worked ever felt normal,” Avelina added. “If you were late by five minutes you wouldn’t even be able to clock in.”
Prime’s convenience is made possible by men and women working around the clock in warehouses with unrealistic metrics and heavy scrutiny over their every move, such as how often they converse with coworkers, or how long their bathroom breaks are, due to news reports.
The packaging and shipping responsibilities they are given are nearly impossible to fulfill because of the large tasks they are assigned in a short period of time, with truck routes spreading out as far as possible and keeping employees late, according to Business Insider.
I reached out to former Amazon employee Hunter Hancock on Twitter, who sports black sunglasses and a jean jacket in his profile picture. He described his time working at the company as “exhausting, uncomfortable and stressful.” He began working at Amazon in San Antonio after his mother got a job there, and both hated their experience, finding themselves in pain after work each day. Hancock spent ten hours a day doing physical labor, on his feet constantly, except for two 15 minute breaks and one 30 minute lunch, and only earned $9 an hour.
Both Hancock and Avelina reported crying after or on their way to work. Avelina said, “the management team I was working with made me feel like I was doing everything wrong.” Hancock endured a similar experience, recalling that whenever his manager checked in, “he had an issue with something, even if we weren’t doing anything wrong.”
Lauren Correia, 19, of Roslindale, was horrified to learn about the mistreatment of Amazon’s employees. “Proper treatment of workers should be a company’s top priority,” she said. Naughton agreed. “Jeff Bezos should be giving back to his workers,” he said. “They deserve more.”
The job negatively pushed Hancock to handle more than he was capable of, both mentally and physically. A work environment should be a positive place that encourages employees to improve, but Hancock felt Amazon did the opposite. He recalled that many employees quit mid shift, and often wished he could do the same, but tried to endure the job due to financial reasons. When he finally quit, he didn’t put in two weeks’ notice, he just never returned to work. While describing this decision, Hancock stated, “I don’t regret it at all.”
Hancock believes Bezos should consider the perspectives of his workers, as “he is so successful, but yet, there’s so many employees that are unhappy, which just seems so selfish.”
Correia, an avid Amazon user, also feels strongly about this issue. “It completely changes my opinion about the company and will decrease how often I use it, if I even continue to at all.”