Monday, September 19, 2022

How Hard Is Amazon Warehouse Work

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There Is Rising Concern Over Racial Inequity

DAY IN THE LIFE Working at an AMAZON Warehouse (Inside Footage)

The retail giant is largely powered by employees of color. According to internal records from 2019, more than 60 percent of associates at JFK8 are Black or Latino.

And Black associates at the warehouse were almost 50 percent more likely to be fired whether for productivity, misconduct or absenteeism than their white peers, the records show.

Derrick Palmer, a Black worker at JFK8, began at the company in 2015 as an enthusiast, and he was often a top producer.

But between the constant monitoring, the assumption that many workers are slackers and the lack of advancement opportunity, a lot of minority workers just felt like we were being used, Mr. Palmer said. His comments echoed the sentiment of Black workers behind an unsuccessful unionization campaign at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama this year.

This spring, the company introduced a host of diversity plans, including a goal to retain employees at statistically similar rates across all demographics an implicit admission that the numbers had been uneven across races. At JFK8, leaders are holding weekly talent review meetings to ensure that Black and Latino workers, among others, are advancing.

Lessons As A Future Amazon Seller

Andrew: What are you gonna do differently? I mean youve got a new venture thats gonna be using Amazon heavily as a lot of e-commerce stores are going to, now that youve been on the floor and worked there, and seen the, you know, inside the beast, so to speak, what are you gonna do differently in terms of , as like an eCommerce store owner?

Dave: The biggest thing I learned from working at the warehouse was just like the randomness of products that people are selling on the FBA, like people were sending in kayaks without a box, just a plain 12-foot kayak with a bar code on it, replicas of the statue of Michael Angelo statue. There was absolutely everything from every spectrum of the whole product possibility.

So I mean I think thats a huge opportunity. These oversized items which people are totally ignoring, like, you can ship anything into an Amazon warehouse and theyre gonna figure out a way to pick it, and pack it, and ship it.

Andrew: Any thoughts onit doesnt make interesting opportunity, but they also charge the arm and the leg for oversize it seems. So any thoughts on being able to tap an opportunity without having to just get eaten alive on the fee size of things?

Pickers Packers And Points

Most jobs at Amazon warehouses are those of pickers and packers. Pickers pull merchandise off storage shelves and place them in bins, then put the bins on conveyor belts to be taken to the packers. The packers package up the products, slap a label on them and put them on another conveyor belt to be taken to a waiting truck.

Emily Guendelsberger, a journalist, took a pre-Christmas job at Amazon in 2015 after the newspaper she worked for in Philadelphia closed. She lasted a month. But before she quit, it gave her enough experience to write one of the few first-hand accounts of what its like to work in an Amazon warehouse.

At first, she said, she got a certain pleasure from all the running around she was doing as a picker at the 25-acre Amazon fulfillment center outside Louisville, Kentucky.

A GPS-enabled, hand-held scanner would tell her what items to pull off the shelves, where to find them and then begin a countdown of the time she was allowed to complete the task. She would place the items in a yellow bin, known as a tote, that she would push around with her.

When a bin was two-thirds full, she would push it to the nearest conveyor belt and send it gliding off to parts unknown, then start a new one, Guendelsberger wrote in her 2019 book, On The Clock.

Every time the scanner has me squat down to get something from a low drawer, its a little harder to force myself back up to standing.

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Daves Recently Sold Business

Andrew: No commission. I wouldnt have charged you anything. So I know youre probably not gonnamaybe as to the buyers you mentioned that getting into too nitty-gritty, but can you give us a sense of like what was the business, and in a general sense, the niche industry, and how long did you run it for?

Dave: Yeah. So we were selling boating products and we had about 200 different boating products, mostly private labeled. All are coming from China. And at the time of sale, we were doing about $2 million a year in revenue.

Andrew: And how long did you run it for? Did you start it yourself or did you buy it from someone else?

Dave: So I started it in in about 2008 when I was finishing up university. And when I started it, it was just kinda something that get a little bit of beer money on the side. And once I graduated, I kinda have had taken it a little bit more seriously and solely grew from there. So, yeah, since 2008 is when I started it.

Amazon Warehouse Employees Have Strict Quotas

Amazons $15 minimum wage to benefit its 350,000 warehouse workers

Workers who pull items from shelves to fulfill your orders are known as âpickers,â and they are monitored for their speed and accuracy. âMy only job was to grab two large, yellow plastic bins, put them on my double decker shopping cart, and fill them with the items that my scanner told me to find,â a former picker said during a Reddit AMA.

âAt my peak, I was picking 120+ items per hour, and it was just good enough.â

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Amazon Warehouse Employees Can Read Your Gift Notes

Packersâemployees who prepare items for shippingâare the ones responsible for printing out gift notes and putting them into the packages. And it’s very possible for them to catch a glimpse of what they say. âWe have a gift note printer for any item that includes one that we have to grab and then toss in the box,â Alex says. âI don’t read them, though. For one, I don’t have time to stop and read if I’m going to hit rate, but also I feel like it’s rude. I know others do.â

Alex did catch one, though. âThe only interesting story I have on thatâand it’s probably only interesting to meâwas a gift receipt for a toilet plunger. No note, just a receipt.â

Amazon Warehouse Employees Dont Get To Decide How Your Order Gets Packed

If youâve ever wondered how a box of protein bars winds up in a soft envelope or why a small item gets packed in an oversized box, so do many employees. âWhen we scan an item, we get a notification on our screen telling us which box size or envelope size to use,â Alex says. âIf the chosen box envelope won’t work for the item, we can override it and choose a better one, but too many overrides goes against our rate ⦠so we are supposed to only do that if we have to.â

Third-party sellers may choose how items get packed, saving money on boxes, or may opt to pack the items themselves, bypassing packers entirely.

Alex adds that owing to employees meeting quotas, they may opt to use a different box without making a note of it, or skip air pillows. If you find a strangely empty box, itâs probably because the packer wanted to keep things moving. âDoing that process as quick as Amazon wants is the key,â Alex says. âThat’s why you’ll find packers who override box sizes but don’t note it on the account, don’t use dunnage , or don’t care that items are damaged when packing. I think that’s a small percentage of packers, though.â

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Amazon Shift Hours: Peak Season At Christmas

Peak season starts a couple of months before Christmas. In my area of the country, the temporary service will start advertising that Amazon is hiring for the Christmas season to try to get the workforce bulked up for the rush. There will be a lot of new faces around the warehouse from about October until the middle of January.

The regular work schedule for an Amazon warehouse associate is set to four 10-hour days in a row and then three days off per week. You are usually assigned to work Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, with Thursday, Friday, and Saturday off. Or you may work Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday with Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday off. There is also another shift called the doughnut shift that works on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. People on that shift have Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday off. The shifts are excellent for the majority of the year until you get into the peak season.

The first thing that will happen is that Amazon will ask for people to volunteer to pick up a fifth day. If you volunteer, you are locked into work that day, and if you miss it, you will have to take the disciplinary action for attendance for that day. Once orders really start to pick up, that 5th day becomes mandatory for everyone. You are now on a five 10 hour a day work week for a total of 50 hours.

20 hours of overtime on a paycheck is nothing to sneeze at, and the money really comes in handy around the holidays.

The Amazon Warehouse Employee Cafeteria Is A War Zone

Working at Amazon Warehouse: Training Day and Work expectations

Workers have two lunch options: Bring your own, or buy a meal from one of dozens of vending machines stocked with mediocre microwavable meals like burgers and hot dogs. âYouâd buy a hamburger and it didnât taste like real beef,â one former worker told us. And good luck heating up your food. Midedâs warehouse cafeteria had about 20 microwaves, and the fight for zap time was fierce. âIt was a war zone trying to get enough time to heat your food and then get out without being run over,â she says. âYou would see people fight. The smartest thing to do was to pack something that doesnât need microwaving, because that was killer.â

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Multiple Fcs In A Region Take Specific Items

The warehouse I was working at was the region’s Oversize warehouse. If you’ve made an FBA order for 1 Oven and 1 Oven mitt and had it go to two different warehouses in the same state, this is why. Ditto if your order requires special prep not every warehouse is set to handle specific types of items.

With that being said, Amazon has a constant stream of trucks ferrying items back and forth between their warehouses. So for example, if a customer made an order on Amazon for that same Oven and Oven mit, Amazon would put the oven mitt on a truck and send it to the oversize warehouse so the two items could ship together and save on shipping costs.

This Story Is Part Of A Group Of Stories Called

Uncovering and explaining how our digital world is changing and changing us.

Amazon is facing a looming crisis: It could run out of people to hire in its US warehouses by 2024, according to leaked Amazon internal research from mid-2021 that Recode reviewed. If that happens, the online retailers service quality and growth plans could be at risk, and its e-commerce dominance along with it.

Raising wages and increasing warehouse automation are two of the six levers Amazon could pull to delay this labor crisis by a few years, but only a series of sweeping changes to how the company does business and manages its employees will significantly alter the timeline, Amazon staff predicted.

If we continue business as usual, Amazon will deplete the available labor supply in the US network by 2024, the research, which hasnt previously been reported, says.

The report warned that Amazons labor crisis was especially imminent in a few locales, with internal models showing that the company was expected to exhaust its entire available labor pool in the Phoenix, Arizona, metro area by the end of 2021, and in the Inland Empire region of California, roughly 60 miles east of Los Angeles, by the end of 2022. Amazons internal report calculated the available pool of workers based on characteristics like income levels and a households proximity to current or planned Amazon facilities the pool does not include the entire US adult population.

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Buggy And Patchwork Systems Caused Some Workers To Lose Their Benefits And Even Their Jobs In Error

More than 25 current and former Amazon employees who worked on the disability and leave system bemoaned its inadequacy in interviews, calling it a source of frustration and panic. The problems escalated during the early months of the pandemic, when a new case management system designed to address the problems and provide flexibility was still buggy. Workers who had applied for leaves were penalized for missing work, triggering job-abandonment notices and then terminations.

Please note the following, Dan Cavagnaro, a JFK8 worker, wrote in a final, unanswered email plea. I WISH TO REMAIN EMPLOYED WITH AMAZON.

He was mistakenly fired anyway.

Dangelo Padilla, who worked as an Amazon case manager at a back office in Costa Rica, said he had witnessed numerous people being fired for no reason.

I saw those situations every day, he said.

Ms. Nantel, the spokeswoman, said the company had quickly approved personal leaves during the pandemic, hiring 500 people to help process the increased volume, and worked hard to contact employees before they were fired to see if they wanted to keep their jobs.

Why Dave Applied For A Warehouse Job

Amazon Tells Canadian Warehouse Workers Theyre Getting a Pay Cut

Dave: I mean Ive always kind of taken the perspective. The best way to kinda learn a business is to go work for it, and thats what I did with my boating company, I worked for West Marine, which is the largest boating company in the US and Canada. So I worked for them for a few months during the summer and that just gave me a really good hands-on experience for how the boating world worked. And, obviously, Amazon has been a big part ofmy previous business will be a big part of my next business, so I thought, Hey, what a better way to kinda learn the way Amazon works than to go work at Amazon.

I mean in Raman one day, and I pulled the paper and I see that theyre hiring in the Vancouver warehouse, so I sent them my resume and pretty much got hired on the spot.

Andrew: Thats awesome. When you went in for it, did they look at your resume and say, Hey, youve got a fairly savvy background. You just sold a business. Like not probably our typical warehouse worker. Did they ask you any questions about that, or was it pretty much like, Hey, you look great. Youre hired.

Dave: I dont think they looked at the resume for one second. You have to submit it as a formality, but I think pretty much if you showed up and youre capable of working, they hired you on the spot. I mean that was kind of my biggest revelations of working at Amazon is how desperate they are for employees at these warehouses. So, yeah, they were not scrutinizing resumes at all.

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Amazon Warehouse Employees Have A Mascot

His name is Peccy, and heâs available on pins given to employees as a reward for things like perfect attendance. The amorphous orange blob was apparently named for Amazonâs self-described peculiar business strategies and has become a hit among employees. âHeâs the Amazon mascot,â Kyle says. âI collect . I guess thatâs an incentive.â

What Exactly Is Amazon Warehouse

Without context, you would think that Amazon Warehouse is just that — Amazon’s warehouses located across the country, where products are stored and orders are fulfilled.

However, what we’re talking about is Amazon Warehouse, with a capital W, which is a somewhat hidden section of the Amazon website that offers deep discounts on preowned, used and open-box products.

If a product purchased on Amazon is returned, refurbished or warehouse-damaged, it can no longer be sold as “new.” So Amazon shuffles these products over to the Amazon Warehouse deals page — where you can find them on sale, with a discount.

You can shop on Amazon Warehouse by category.

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Amazon Warehouse Employees List ‘problem Solver’ As A Warehouse Job

Itâs 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 âproblem solverâ is called over to inspect it. âIf 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,â explains one problem solver in a recent Reddit AMA.

Does It Matter Which Amazon Warehouse Deal I Take

This is what it’s like to work in an Amazon warehouse

Yes. If you view all of the Amazon Warehouse deals available for a single product, you’ll see a variety of prices, sorted by lowest price at the top, by default.

Of course you probably want the best deal, but it’s also important to check out the condition of each item, which we’ll explain in more detail below. The cheaper it is, the more damaged or imperfect the item may be.

If you want a product that’s in better condition, you might need to spend a bit more.

Each product may have multiple Amazon Warehouse deals, each in different physical condition.

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