Amazon’s logistical operations are legendarily complicated, yet shockingly well-oiled, with millions of packages being delivered to customers in astonishingly short windows of time. But, according to a recent Gizmodo investigation, the way Amazon carries out the last leg of that operation could be in violation of a number of labor laws.
In order to actually get packages from a sorting facility to the doorsteps of customers, Amazon employs a “nearly-invisible workforce… of supposedly self-employed, utterly expendable couriers,” that pick up jobs through an Uber-like app called Amazon Flex. And like Uber, there seems to be a lot of chaos and very little accountability when it comes to how workers are treated once clocked in.
To enroll, the story found, Flex requires candidates to be 21, to have a bike or a car, and to pass a background check, but virtually nothing else, and the paucity of requirements attracts a lot of potential candidates from all across the country.
Once those candidates are enrolled, however, strange logistical hang-ups can cause them to work much longer than scheduled, or in adverse or dangerous conditions, without getting compensated for the extra time or effort (the story mentioned one worker who was tasked with delivering packages during Hurricane Irma).
What’s more, the jobs are as easy to lose as they are to get – drivers can be reprimanded for litany of very minor infractions, which can ultimately lead to their expulsion.
If this all sounds pretty menial, that’s understandable, but taken altogether, the story says, the program exposes a pretty broad pattern of disorganization, poor treatment of workers, and a general ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ attitude toward existing labor laws, which is pretty disconcerting when you’re talking about a company that can hire 20,000 people in a single day.
You can read more about it at Gizmodo.