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.