From Mental Floss:
In 2014, Amazon sold two billion items worldwide. All those products, from phone cases to car seats, are stored inside Amazon’s fulfillment centers and then sorted and wrapped by warehouse workers. In the U.S. alone there are more than 50 of these gigantic buildings with 40,000 workers toiling away inside them, and that’s not counting the tens of thousands of part-time workers who join during busy seasons.
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We spoke to a few of these employees about what it’s like to be part of the Amazon machine.
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1. Not Everyone has a Horror Story
There have been dozens of stories portraying Amazon warehouses as inhumane, hellish workplaces, and while some workers may have been subject to these conditions, the ones I spoke to hadn’t. “It is certainly hard work,” said Brant Ivey, who spent six months in one of Amazon’s hubs lifting oversized objects. But “the conditions at the warehouse were on par or better than most other warehouses that I have been in.” One of the biggest complaints is that the warehouses are too hot. In 2012, after a lengthy expose revealed brutally hot summertime conditions, Amazon announced plans to spend $52 million to install air conditioning in its U.S. warehouses.
One Reddit user put it bluntly: “The work does suck, but all warehouse work sucks. I have experienced FAR worse conditions and been treated terrible by other Fortune 500 companies.”
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5. And They Walk a Lot.
Amazon fulfillment centers are colossal. One warehouse in Baltimore covers one million square feet, or roughly 23 acres. That’s a lot of land to cover on foot. One employee, who worked in Amazon warehouses for 14 years, told us he walked 13 miles a day when picking. “That’s over a 10 hour period, so its like 1.3 miles per hour, which isn’t bad,” he says. “But doing it for 10 hours straight, by the third or fourth day your legs are almost like jelly.”
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12. “Problem Solver” is a Warehouse Job
It’s their responsibility to fix other people’s mistakes. If a warehouse packer screws up on the assembly line, the Amazon machine knows it. Scales weigh each package, and if the weight is off, the box gets pulled and a “problem solver” is called over to inspect it. “If there is an error during any stage of the process, I find it, correct it, and provide the feedback to the person or cause of the error,” explains one problem solver.
Link to the rest at Mental Floss and thanks to Al for the tip.
PG says Amazon warehouse work doesn’t involve shoveling manure while standing knee-deep in it or tossing 50-75 pound objects around all day in the blazing sun or pulling the internal organs out of chickens on a stinking disassembly line or crawling inside a cement truck barrel with a sledgehammer to beat off pieces of rock-hard concrete.
PG suspects that most of the people who write about how hard it is to be an Amazon warehouse worker have never held a job that required serious manual labor.