By Kevin Meyer
Take a look at the following quotes from an article on worker abuse. I've purposely redacted the company and location identifying information.
"As long as my body holds up, I will keep working. But the way it feels, I don't know how long that will be."
… a warehouse safety worker… instructed him to tell emergency workers that his hip injury was not work-related, even though he says it was.
… an investigation of… warehouse operations last year… also found indoor temperatures soared so high that… had ambulances parked outside to take workers to the hospital. [Sorry – I just have to add "ARE YOU FRIGGIN' KIDDING ME??" to this one.]
… pressure to manage injuries so they would not have to be reported, such as attributing workplace injuries to pre-existing conditions or treating wounds in a way that did not trigger reports.
A former warehouse safety official said in-house medical staff were asked to treat wounds, when possible, with bandages rather than refer workers to a doctor for stitches that could trigger reports. And warehouse officials tried to advise doctors on how to treat injured workers.
"This was just a brutal place to work."
"They would have meetings on how we could get rid of people who were hurt. It was horrible."
I could add several more, but I'll stop there. I'm betting most of you think I'm quoting from yet another report on Apple's Foxconn supplier in China, right? Or at least some other sweatshop operation deep in Asia or Latin America?
Nope. It's Amazon, in Campbellsville, Kentucky. Last time I checked that's in the USA.
How can we rant and rave against working conditions overseas when we allow the same here? Sure, there aren't suicide nets around the top of worker dormitories and 100 hour weeks probably don't happen. Still, the similarities are eerie, including that it's another high profile tech company.
It's unacceptable. And we wonder why unions still exist – once again it's because of pathetic management that gives the rest of us a really bad name. The rest of us that understand that there's a valuable brain attached to the supposedly costly pair of hands, and that it makes great business sense to take very good care of that brain.
One last quote from the article on the vicious cycle that begins once you start circling the drain of worker abuse:
But over time, said former workers at Campbellsville, production pressure from headquarters intensified amid constant turnover. "There would be phone conferences [with Seattle], and all this screaming, about production numbers. That was always the problem; the production numbers weren't high enough," said a former safety manager with oversight of the warehouse who spoke on condition of anonymity.
If you treat your "most valuable asset" (how much you want to bet that Amazon has that buried in a mission or vision statement somewhere…) like crap, they eventually leave, and you have to figure out how to make up the difference. Either by working the remaining poor souls harder or by finding even poorer souls willing to work in such a hell.
Of course Evolving Excellence readers know a better way. Leverage the power of their brains to improve processes which will improve quality and efficiency – value. And take care of those valuable brains.