Well, I certainly hope this isn’t true about Amazon

Speaking of economic development news, I haven’t known quite what to make of this report, which one of our regulars has shared with me:

Employees say they faced brutal heat at Amazon warehouse

Twenty current and former employees at an Amazon warehouse in Pennsylvania say they were forced to work in brutal heat at a breakneck pace while hired paramedics waited outside in case anyone became dangerously dehydrated.

Spencer Soper has published an exhaustive investigation into the massive online retailer’s Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania operation. Soper reports that a local doctor treated employees at the facility for heat-related health problems, and wound up filing a complaint about conditions there with federal regulators. Many of the warehouse’s employees were temporary and hired through a staffing company; if they did not meet packing quotas, they faced daily threats of termination, Soper writes.

He also notes that a corps of other temporary workers were poised to replace any freshly fired Amazon employee. “The safety and welfare of our employees is our No. 1 priority at Amazon, and as the general manager, I take that responsibility seriously,” Amazon warehouse manager Vickie Mortimer told the paper.

The original news story to which that summary refers is here. By the way, the summary is from Yahoo. Not sure what to make of that.

Our regular contributor sent that to me via email, so I’m guessing he meant to be an anonymous messenger. As for me, I just say I have great hopes for Amazon, and hope even more fervently that this description will in no way apply to the new facility here that will employ so many of our neighbors.

I doubt that it will. In this day and age, such stories are a bit hard to believe. But I pass it on for you to decide what you think.

15 thoughts on “Well, I certainly hope this isn’t true about Amazon

  1. Tim

    I sent it to you, because I couldn’t see how it was germane to any other recent post. Bridgestone hadn’t popped up yet. Maybe when/if you want to add a feature, you can do a ‘suggest a topic’ box.

    What I am concerned about is that it shows that these ‘good jobs with benefits’ may be more ‘bad jobs with no benefits’

    Amazon is a business that doesn’t really make anything and depends on a tax-avoidance ‘discount’ scheme as part of its business model. If they ever get close to Walmarts sales levels, wait for the lobbying storm to level that playing field.

  2. Kathryn Fenner

    A/C is not as universal in PA as it is here–my brother hasn’t had central A/C in either house in Philly he had. Of course you’d have A/C in any facility in SC!

  3. Phillip

    Wouldn’t this kind of thing just fit in nicely to the GOP “Return to the Gilded Age” platform? If these Amazon employees can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen! And if PA officials get all “regulatory” ‘n such, Amazon can just move on down to some Southern state that has a more, ahem, “pro-business” climate. Climate indeed!

  4. Steven Davis

    So Brad, you consider four distinct seasons not “normal weather”? Hot and humid is no way to live… unless you’re some sort of fungus.

  5. Tim

    Houses are different than warehouses. So they let perfume and soap (or candles, etc.) sit in sweltering heat in PA. One would think AC would be essential in a commercial setting that handles anything as broad as Amazon’s selections. This is just weird.

  6. Mark Stewart


    There is no A/C in the Cayce facility (at least there isn’t any evidence of an a/c plant from the road). This would make it just like the “real” DC warehouses to not be cooled for employees. That’s fine for a handful of guys riding around on forklifts grabbing pallet loads; not so great for the hundreds of pickers running around filling individual retail orders. Good thing their busy season isn’t in the summer I guess.

    The part about the ambulance standing by sounds like a bit of union-style sloganeering, however.

  7. bud

    Kind of reminds me of the movie “Enemy at the Gates”. The Russian army defending Stalingrad did not have enough guns to arm all it’s soldiers so they simply had one unarmed soldier follow his comrade into battle then when he was slain he’d pick up his rifle and continue the assault. Now we have a similar situation at Amazan. And of course the Libertarians think this is all part of the world of capitalism. No federal rules necessary.

  8. Steven Davis

    How many overhead doors would be left open at any given time? A/C and heat may be useless if half the building is open to the outside. That’s what climate controlled break rooms are for.

  9. Greg Jones

    In an unrelated (but isn’t everything about the economy and commerce related), why isn’t Amazon complaining about the Confederate flag? How about Brodgestone? How about LeCreuset and BMW? Or to turn that question around, how many more would come to S.C. if the flag wasn’t flying in front of the State House?

  10. Kathy

    Our seasons are normal for South Carolina: Almost Summer, Summer, Still Summer, and Christmas. And don’t forget that you can cook out on the grill all but three months of the year—July, August, and September. Happy humidity!

  11. Steven Davis

    Greg, the flag doesn’t affect their bottom line. They’re more concerned with cheap labor, cheap property and low taxes than with the Confederate flag. In SC you get all of the above.

    How many companies decided not to do business in Communist China? I bet companies would have done business in Nazi Germany if the price was right.

  12. Greg Jones

    Exactly. That’s what makes BOTH sides (pro-flaggers and boycotters) so stupid in this. I just wish we could have NCAA basketball tournaments in our beautiful new arena in Columbia.

  13. Brad

    I don’t give a flip what the NCAA does. I just want the flag down. The flag is none of the NCAA’s business. But it is MY business, because I am a South Carolinian. And I want it down.

  14. bud

    I’m with Greg, it’s just a shame we can’t have basketball tournament games in Columbia. It’s sort of like Lincoln’s dilimma over slavery. He once sugggested he’d free all the slaves, some of the slaves or none if that would help keep the nation together. I’d keep the flag flying, bring it down or move it if that would bring NCAA tournament games to Columbia.


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