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Amazon algorithm being called out in a landmark bill

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Amazon warehouse workers have complained about long hours and harsh penalties for being ‘off-task. California has signed a law to ban layoffs of workers for failing to meet a permanent quota. The online retailer has not yet responded to the new legislation. Amazon algorithm

Toilet facilities

The bill, which is the first of its kind, will go into effect in January 2022. Companies must detail the number of tasks they expect warehouse workers to complete in a given time frame, as well as any penalties for failing to do so. In California, Amazon employs approximately 150,000 people. Amazon algorithm

‘Difficult workloads’

His salary and benefits are making him one of the best in the industry. However, some complain that working conditions are not ideal and that heavy workloads cause mental and physical problems. One of its most contentious policies is time off from work (TOT).

Based on the number of items scanned, Amazon’s algorithms determine which hours of a shift are off task, with penalties for those who underperform.

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Amazon has updated its employee productivity tool to average scanned items over a longer period of time. Previously, the system would send an alert if workers were not on task for 30 minutes. At the time of the change, Amazon said the tool “could be easily misunderstood” but its main goal is to help employees be more productive.

‘Union-busting strategies’

In April, Bessemer workers in Bessemer, Alabama, voted for the first time whether or not they wanted representation through the National Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU).

The vote was against the union, but there were allegations, Amazon had used union-busting strategies, which included:

  • Modifying a traffic-lighting system outside the warehouse in order to allow the union official less time to distribute leaflets to workers
  • bombarding workers with messages posters, messages, and signs soliciting them to vote no

RWDSU President Stuart Applebaum welcomed the new California law, but said an agreement with a union “is better”. Transparency regarding the requirements of warehouses of its employees was essential according to him, but “many other issues” had to be taken care of. The US Teamsters Union announced in June that it, too, intended to hire Amazon workers.

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