I'm a former Amazon Fulfillment Center Employee, AMA.
I used to work for Amazon, both in the warehouse, and at home. I worked in the warehouse for a year, and another year working from home.
Proof: https://i.imgur.com/skafXgQ.jpg (This was the closet immediate proof I could give without taking a picture of my actual work ID, and these are the 3 things they gave us along with our work ID so we always had a reference of what to do and how to do it, and phone numbers that we were required to have)
Something needs to change with Amazon's policies and work environment/conditions. Clearly put, it is modern day slavery that is made legal due to "grey areas"
The number one issues I had when working with Amazon at the warehouse was the bathroom to performance issue. Basically, if you wanted to go to the bathroom, you had to worry about getting written up due to your rate going down because depending on where you are in the building (Amazon is a MASSIVE building, with a ton of security measures) it could take you anywhere from 5-10 minutes just to get to a bathroom, then when you get there there's still the matter of you actually using the restroom, then the time it takes you to get back to the area where you work, so lets say best case scenario it takes you 5 minutes to get to a bathroom, 1-2 minutes to use the restroom, then another 5 minutes to get back to the area you were before the bathroom break, you're down 12 minutes of productivity time now which dramatically affects your rate, and if your rate falls below a certain number (this number is picked by each warehouse, so the number is different for each, but for mine it was 120) so if you went below 120 at my warehouse, it was an automatic write up without the chance to explain why you went below, it's basically a zero tolerance policy on your rate.
What does this mean for people who work for the warehouse with Amazon? Well, you can starve yourself of water so you don't have to go to the bathroom, or you can risk being written up and/or possibly terminated because of your rate going down due to your bathroom break. While Amazon will NEVER say that they are writing you up for going to the bathroom because that would bring a mountain of bad publicity not to mention, it's illegal, so of course they're not going to say to the public, "Yes, we're against our employee's going to the restroom" No, instead they use grey areas, such as "You're being written up because your rate fell below the accepted mark" As for your reason as to why your rate is below target, they don't care.
Second issue I have is lunch breaks, and this is where my experience working from home with Amazon comes into play. At the warehouse with Amazon you get a 30 minute break, whereas working from home with Amazon, in the luxury of your own bedroom, doing nothing but taking calls all day, and no physical work what so ever, you get an hour break. This absolutely disgusted me. Why was I being given an hour break for doing a job that's not hard at all? And I mean not hard physically or mentally, the work from home job with Amazon was a cakewalk and by far the easiest and most pleasurable job experience I've ever had. To add, I worked 8 hours a day working form home with Amazon, whereas the warehouse I would work 10-12 hours a day.
But... working in the warehouse for Amazon... where I'm literally busting my ass physically and mentally, I get a 30 minute break for working a 10-12 hour shift? That's despicable and this needs to be looked at, and let me explain why.
So in the warehouse, your lunch breaks are done "Scan to scan" is what they like to call them, so, for instance, if your lunch is at 12:00 PM, as a picker you scan your last item at 12:00 PM, then you go to lunch, and just like the bathroom, depending on how far away you are from the punch in/out centers, it can take you 5-10 minutes just to get there, however this isn't as big of a deal when it comes to clocking out as it is when you're clocking back in. Then, once you clock out for your lunch break, you have to go through security, which can take anywhere from 2-10 minutes, depending on how long the line is, how many security lines are open, and whether or not someones being searched because something went off which in turn makes you take longer to go outside and enjoy your lunch. Amazon is "nice enough" to send food trucks for lunch, but unless you're one of the first people outside, it's a waste, because if you're not and you decide to get food from a food truck, you could wait in line for 5 mins, then have to wait for the food, I'll be generous and give this about 2 minutes for the food to come out, however in some cases it can take longer so keep that in mind. Then you still have to eat the food, and if the food is piping hot since it was just cooked, you'll likely have to wait for that to cool down.
Lastly, for lunch breaks, you have to clock back in from your lunch, then go back to where you were before you went on your lunch break, and do your last "scan" so since we went to lunch at 12 in this scenario, as a picker, we have to have our first item scanned at 12:30, so if you're supposed come back from lunch and be at the opposite end of the building from the entrance, that can take an easy 5 minutes to get there so that already shaves 5 minutes off of your lunch, and having your first item scanned at 12:31 means you're late from lunch, even if you are clocked in, and that results in a verbal warning for your first offense, and any time after that is a write up and can lead to termination. So all in all, in reality, your lunch break at an Amazon warehouse, is truthfully about 20 minutes, if you're lucky.
Third issue is the physical stress this puts on your body. Let me start off by saying I'm no stranger to hard work, I've done plenty of truly hard working jobs, both physical and mentally. So hard work doesn't scare me, but this is by far the worst I have ever had the misfortune of doing as a job. The back pain that came with this job was grueling, not to mention the number it does on your feet? I would literally come home from work and do nothing but flop on the bed and just lay there. Didn't bother eating, didn't bother cooking, didn't bother spending time with the wife, didn't bother getting out of the house, if it involved getting out of bed and moving my body, I wasn't doing it, so for the year that I survived at the warehouse my life was literally work, bed, work, bed. Bed in this case doesn't always mean sleep, I'll admit, but it did mean that I was just laying in bed doing absolutely nothing else until I had to go back to work.
It pains me to even say this publicly, but countless times I've thought about committing suicide at the Amazon warehouse facility, there's 3 floors to an Amazon warehouse, and when I was on the third floor, I would sometimes look over the rails and imagine the different ways I could end my life. If it came down to it, I would honestly go homeless first than to go back to working at an Amazon Warehouse.
Lastly, the heat, oh good lord the heat... In the winter it's not so bad, but dear god in the summer you'd think your below the earth in our deepest dug coal mines where it's about 60 Celsius. There's no windows, there's no air conditioning, you just have fans in every couple isles or so, fans that do no good because it's so hot in the building, the fans are blowing hot air on you. Because of how hot it is in the building, you die of thirst, but then comes the fear of losing your job or being written up which can lead to being terminated, because if you drink water, you'll eventually have to go to the bathroom, and God forbid you have to make a trip to the bathroom during working hours. Which by the way, correct me if I'm wrong, but according to OSHA, it is unlawful for any work environment to be above 76 degrees Fahrenheit, according to OSHA, your work place environments temperature must be between 68 and 76 degrees and I guarantee you without a doubt that each and every warehouse for Amazon is hotter than 76.
Now, Amazon likes to give the public the bullshit line of "Come take a tour of our facility" any time the terrible working conditions are mentioned and put on the news. Here's the problem with that. All a tour of the warehouse is going to do is show everyone that it's your typical every day warehouse. A tour doesn't show how employee's are treated, it doesn't show the ridiculous rates and quotas that employee's are expected to meet on an hourly basis, it doesn't show how a lunch break session begins and ends, it doesn't show any of the important things that could get the warehouses shut down or at the very least force them to make changes. You want this fixed Amazon? Offer PUBLIC Job Shadowing instead, and one that's not blatantly controlled by Amazon to make them look good in the spotlight.
Here's the problem, nothing will change unless we can manage to get a group together and file a lawsuit against Amazon for the god awful working conditions. One person filing a lawsuit against them will almost always lose, they have too much money and too much power, but if you can get a large number of people to agree to open a lawsuit against them together, I believe we can force Amazon's hand to make some serious changes.
This is modern day slavery, and the government allows it because of "Grey areas" that Amazon takes clear advantage of. This job can and will take a toll on your health and well being. This job will suck the very life out of you, it's time to step up and quit allowing this to happen.