Many of us take advantage of Amazon.com’s free shipping offer, adding one or two more cheap items to our baskets to achieve the $25 minimum. But what we may not realize is the real moral cost of “free” shipping – unfair and often brutal working conditions for shipping employees. Like many online retail warehouses across the country, Amazon’s are located in low-income areas, giving local residents looking for work little choice but to live with the less than desirable conditions. As of late, more and more of these issues have been coming to light, making us wonder if we wouldn’t mind paying a few bucks more for shipping so that others can have a higher quality of life.
One of the warehouses in question ships Amazon.com’s goods from Lehigh Valley, and was recently investigated by a reporter for the newspaper The Morning Call. During the summer, the warehouse, which is not air conditioned or ventilated, can reach up to 102 degrees F. In the sweltering heat, the employees are expected to perform a laundry list of manual labor, from packing to heavy lifting. Several employees passed out from the hard labor and heat that would make a person ill even if they were relaxing.
The Amazon warehouse in Lehigh is not staffed by Amazon employees, but rather contracted out to a temporary agency. The Morning Call interviewed 20 employees of the Lehigh warehouse, and were horrified at what they learned. Many employees reported they were forced to work at an unrealistic pace while temperatures inside the warehouse blazed. Failure to comply or meet quotas resulted in losing their jobs. Since jobs in the area are very sparse, employees just put up with it.
The Morning Call also reported that Amazon had medical help, ambulances and paramedics, on call during the hottest times of the summer, and when employees fell ill, others were ready to replace them. It may sound unthinkable that this is going on today, but with our current economy, people are happy to find jobs that pay $12 an hour. Unfortunately, it is because of these low wages that companies like Amazon can offer “free” shipping. Food for thought the next time you opt for the Super Saver shipping option.
Via The Morning Call