As a teenager in the 80’s I worked multiple warehouse and manufacturing jobs. The experience was much as you described without all the automation. There is nothing new about assembly link quotas, dirty cages and workstations, and monotonous labor. Instead of a spreadsheet tracking my efficiency there were foreman screaming in ears.
When the author described the ‘Picking’ job, I thought about how that task is most of the way to being automated. Amazon just needs to deploy a robot to do it instead of a person.
Hypothetically, if we lived in a world where Amazon’s “Fulfillment Centers” were %100 automated (and laid off all of their blue collar workforce), would that make Amazon a more “ethical” company?
I have heard from workers over here in the States that there is no talking in the warehouse. Now that you have given full detail to the rundown of a day in the life of someone in a fulfillment center, I can see that there is now time for talking. Talking is not allowed as you have mentioned Amazon does not want any unions.
Thank you so much for a very well written and thoughtful piece.
Not to pile on to Amazon per se, however, I believe Amazon’s ripple effect has led to far more damage to many industries- far more than people realize.
The “free ship” mentality of America can be laid at the feet of Jeff Bezos.
Great article. For the record I always buy from eBay. Whilst I know this may sound like the difference between the devil and the deep blue sea, at least on eBay you can peruse independent shop listings and also I normally find the same item for a few pounds cheaper… :D