From The Guardian:
I am homeless. My worst days now are better than my best days working at Amazon.
According to Amazon’s metrics, I was one of their most productive order pickers – I was a machine, and my pace would accelerate throughout the course of a shift. What they didn’t know was that I stayed fast because if I slowed down for even a minute, I’d collapse from boredom and exhaustion.
During peak season, I trained incoming temps regularly. When that was over, I’d be an ordinary order picker once again, toiling in some remote corner of the warehouse, alone for 10 hours, with my every move being monitored by management on a computer screen.
Superb performance did not guarantee job security. ISS is the temp agency that provides warehouse labor for Amazon and they are at the center of the SCOTUS case Integrity Staffing Solutions vs. Busk. ISS could simply deactivate a worker’s badge and they would suddenly be out of work. They treated us like beggars because we needed their jobs. Even worse, more than two years later, all I see is: Jeff Bezos is hiring.
I have never felt more alone than when I was working there. I worked in isolation and lived under constant surveillance. Amazon could mandate overtime and I would have to comply with any schedule change they deemed necessary, and if there was not any work, they would send us home early without pay. I started to fall behind on my bills.
At some point, I lost all fear. I had already been through hell. I protested Amazon. The gag order was lifted and I was free to speak. I spent my last days in a lovely apartment constructing arguments on discussion boards, writing articles and talking to reporters. That was 2012 and Amazon’s labor and business practices were only beginning to fall under scrutiny. I walked away from Amazon’s warehouse and didn’t have any other source of income lined up.
. . . .
I furthered my Amazon protest while homeless in Seattle. When the Hachette dispute flared up, I “flew a sign,” street parlance for panhandling with a piece of cardboard: “I was an order picker at amazon.com. Earned degrees. Been published. Now, I’m homeless, writing and doing this. Anything helps.”
. . . .
I’ve applied for many jobs, and any prospective employer that runs a Google search of my name can see my discontent with my last employer.
. . . .
I don’t know what the picture of the average American homeless person is, but I’m sure it wouldn’t include me. I graduated college. I have been published in a scholarly journal and a social-justice oriented website. I have completed my MA in American Studies. I ditched plans to pursue a PhD because it clearly wasn’t going to be a viable career option: I did not appreciate the so-called privilege to become volunteer labor and work for less than minimum wage as a graduate student, and then maybe, if I were so fortunate, become an adjunct professor. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I was living a fantasy, thinking that a student of the humanities would be tolerated, and paid decently, in the corporate world of the modern university. I could never afford to perform an unpaid internship and that damaged my long-term career prospects. I had to work at jobs that paid money, jobs like the one at Amazon, while I went to school and took out loans.
. . . .
My wallet does not contain a single bill. I need glasses. I need winter clothes. I need cash and an opportunity. Anything! I’ve applied for jobs, both professional and with physical labor. Taken my MA off my resume so I don’t look overqualified. I’ve tried everything. Maybe it’s because I protested Amazon; maybe it’s because my credit is wrecked. Maybe it’s because I used homeless services as addresses. Maybe it’s because there really aren’t many jobs available.
. . . .
I’ve worked for places to live in Oregon, mostly cooking and feeding families. It was a kind of Maoist re-education program– a little too much like slavery for my comfort.
Link to the rest at The Guardian
The Guardian is rapidly becoming PG’s go-to destination for prime Amazon Derangement Syndrome.