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Amazons Collide at Work: Days of Conflict and Control

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In recent weeks, a heated discussion about whether Amazon workers should urinate in bottles because they don’t have time to go to the bathroom, a level of control few modern businesses would dare exercise raged on Twitter.

Amazon is revamping the very nature of retail work, something that is traditionally undemanding physically and involves a lot of downtime, into something closer to a factory, which never lets go, said Spencer Cox , a former Amazon employee who is writing his doctorate. . thesis at the University of Minnesota on how business transforms work. For Amazon, it’s not about the money. It is about controlling the bodies of the workers and every possible moment of their time.

Amazon has no comments for this story.

Signs that Amazon is facing more crackdown on its control have started to mount. In February, Lovenia Scott, a former warehouse worker for the company in Vacaville, Calif., Accused Amazon in a lawsuit of having so much work to do that she and her colleagues were left with no pause. Ms. Scott is seeking class action status.

Last month, the California labor commissioner said 718 delivery drivers who worked for Green Messengers, a Southern California contractor for Amazon, owed $ 5 million in wages that never went to their wallets. . The drivers were paid for 10 hours a day, the labor commissioner said, but the volume of the packages was so large that they often had to work 11 hours or more and during breaks.

Amazon said it is no longer working with Green Messengers and will appeal the decision. The Green Messengers could not be reached for comment.

An Amazon warehouse in the Canadian province of Ontario showed rapid spread of Covid-19 in March. Our investigation determined that a shutdown was needed to break the chain of transmission, said Dr Lawrence Loh, the regional doctor. We have provided our recommendation to Amazon. The company, he said, did not respond. Health officials ordered workers to self-isolate, shutting down the facility for two weeks.

And five U.S. senators wrote the company a letter last month asking for more information on why it was equipping its delivery vans with surveillance cameras that constantly monitor the driver. The technology, the senators wrote, raises important questions of worker privacy and surveillance Amazon must answer.

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