Amazon's seasonal workers endure the same grueling conditions as the full-timers, it just doesn't seem as bad for such a short period of time. "It's like the best place to work and the worst place to work," seasonal worker Kelly Andrus told The Wall Street Journal's Stu Woo. She sounds cheerier than workers in an expose from Allentown paper The Morning Call, which portrayed the working conditions at Amazon warehouses akin to building the pyramids. Woo actually depicts the same, tough work culture, yet his subjects don't seem as miffed about the situation. "I definitely would do it again," another worker, Clare Moxley told Woo, after describing her as "too tired to do anything but stay in her 16 foot trailer" after a long day of work. That might have something to do with the weather. And the temporariness.
Though employees like Andrus and Moxley claim to have had good enough experiences, their stints don't sound too unlike the workers who complained to The Morning Call. Those full-timers said they worked sans air conditioning in 100-degree weather; passed out from heat exhaustion; lifted heavy boxes all day; walked 13 miles a day; were never promoted and lived in fear of being fired for underperformance.
These cheerier temp workers don't pass out from heat exhaustion -- but it is winter time. Otherwise, the work sounds equally brutal. Employees report strict managers and physically demanding labor. Woo calls the gig "a sort-of modern-day migrant worker." "Workers can be on their feet for hours fetching items from shelves, packing boxes and preparing incoming items for storage," writes Woo, which sounds a lot like the 50-year-old worker who told The Morning Call he walked 13 to 15 miles a day and then got fired for not working fast enough. They don't have to worry about things like promotions or getting fired, as they only plan on doing the job for a few weeks. And that short employment time makes the job less tedious -- it's only temporary after-all. They still spend all day moving boxes around in a warehouse like the one below.
For such a short period of time staffers see this more as a personal challenge, than a job. Many told Woo they lost five pounds in a few weeks. And Moxley said she was glad to prove that she can still handle tough, physical labor. They make the same $12 an hour pay as full time workers. Extend this from a seasonal job, to full time reality and we bet those workers would have a lot more complaining to do.
Image by the Scottish Government via Flickr.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to email@example.com.