The AtlanticThe Atlantic

Ruthless Quotas at Amazon Are Maiming Employees

By Will Evans

25 Nov 2019 · 22 min read

When Candice Dixon showed up for her first day of work at an Amazon warehouse in Eastvale, California, she stepped into a wonder of automation, efficiency, and speed. Inside the sprawling four-story building in Southern California’s Inland Empire, hundreds of squat orange robots whizzed across the floor, carrying tall yellow racks.

As a stower, her job was to stand in a spot on the floor, like hundreds of others in that million-square-foot warehouse, and fill an unending parade of merchandise racks. Another worker, known as a “water spider,” would bring her boxes upon boxes of goods—jars of protein powder, inflatable unicorn pool floats, laptops, makeup, Himalayan sea salt, vibrators, plastic toy cars. She’d grab each item out of a box, scan it, lift it onto the rack, and scan its new location. She’d use a stepladder to put things on the top of the rack. For heavy items—she remembers the cases of pet food in particular—she’d have to squat down to hoist them in, then pop back up to grab the next item. As soon as she’d filled a rack, she’d press a button, and one robot would zip it away while another robot would bring a new one to fill.

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