A recent report in the Allentown Morning Call newspaper alleged what could only be described as harsh working conditions in Amazon.com’s Breinigsville, Pa., fulfillment warehouse — including workers being taken out in wheelchairs and stretchers after suffering from heat stress this summer, with eager new temporary employees ready to take their place in the difficult job market.

With the story getting national attention, Amazon issued a statement overnight addressing the situation — saying, among other things, that it spent more than $2.4 million to install air conditioning at four of its fulfillment centers this summer, including the Pennsylvania facility in question. The company also sought to correct the impression that the center is staffed largely with temp workers.

Here’s the full text of the statement …

A Message from Amazon – September 22, 2011

There’s been recent news coverage regarding temperatures and working conditions in our Breinigsville, Pennsylvania, fulfillment center.

Certain parts of the country experienced unusually high temperatures this summer. We spent more than $2.4 million urgently installing industrial air conditioning units in four of our fulfillment centers, including our Breinigsville facility. These industrial air conditioning units were online and operational by late July and early August. This was not mandated by any governmental agency, and in fact air conditioning remains an unusual practice in warehouses. We’ll continue to operate these air conditioning units or equivalent ones in future summers.

We have temporary employees working in our facilities for two reasons – to manage variation in customer demand throughout the year and as a way of finding high-quality full-time employees. There are 1,381 full-time employees in Breinigsville, all of whom receive full-time benefits including healthcare. Since January of this year, 850 temporary employees in Breinigsville have been converted to full-time employment.

We welcome and embrace questions about our preparedness and planning, and indeed we routinely ask those internally, but those who know us well don’t doubt our intent or our focus on employee safety.

Thank you.

Comments

  • Guest

    Kudos to Amazon for acknowledging, owning, and resolving the problem in a timely fashion.

  • Anonymous

    Ok so you say not mandated by Government, sure  I bet you quickly did it due to OSHA breathing fire down your neck and knowing it was coming so you wanted to look good first.

    Now what about COLD FREEZING WINTERS, are you going to install HEATING UNITS in these warehouses?

  • http://www.jeffrutherford.com Jeff Rutherford

    To the Guest who posted, the question is how would Amazon have acted on this – without the damning story in The Morning Call? Oh, I think we know exactly how they acted – or did not act.

    And, I say that as someone who has bought tons of stuff from Amazon over the years and has cheered their success as a company. Their conduct in treating their warehouse works is simply appalling.

    Does Amazon air-condition their server farms? Hmmm, you bet they do. So where are their priorities?

    I blogged about Amazon’s Sweatshop 2.0 this morning – http://jeffrutherford.com/amazon-com-sweatshop-2-0/

    • Guest

      Jeff,

      From which other companies do you buy goods? How do they treat their workers?

      Please investigate. Blog the results.

      • http://www.jeffrutherford.com Jeff Rutherford

        Sorry, I don’t have the time to investigate every company I spend money with. But, I can certainly say that something is inhumane and appalling, when I do hear about it – and make my choices about where I spend money accordingly. 

        • Guest

          You should, Jeff. You might discover some appalling things about where that iPhone was built, where those coffee beans were harvested, et cetera.

          Opt into good purchases, Jeff, not out of bad ones.

        • Guest

          You should, Jeff. You might discover some appalling things about where that iPhone was built, where those coffee beans were harvested, et cetera.

          Opt into good purchases, Jeff, not out of bad ones.

        • Guest

          You should, Jeff. You might discover some appalling things about where that iPhone was built, where those coffee beans were harvested, et cetera.

          Opt into good purchases, Jeff, not out of bad ones.

    • Guest

      These are the last headlines from Jeff’s blog. I swear to Jesus I am not making this up.

      1. Whining about Amazon.
      2. Whining about Alienware.
      3. Whining about press releases.
      4. How to podcast.
      5. Whining about press releases.
      6. Whining about BP.

      Keep tilting, Jeff. Those windmills are about to kick your ass.

  • http://www.jeffrutherford.com Jeff Rutherford

    Amazon’s new slogan. “Welcome to the new economy. We’ve got an ambulance parked outside.”

  • Thiago

    Well, it seems like a lot, but considering how large and far reaching Amazon is, it actually is pretty reasonable. It’s good that they’ve done something to improve working conditions. Happy employees are better business, that’s a fact. Thiago | http://www.sullivanservice.com/heating-air-conditioning/new-ac-system

Job Listings on GeekWork