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Seattle-Area Amazon Warehouse Sparks Outrage By Holding Productivity Contest During Heat Wave

Seattle-Area Amazon Warehouse Sparks Outrage By Holding Productivity Contest During Heat Wave

Unprecedented heatwaves have effected the Pacific Northwest in a huge way, causing power outages, record breaking temperatures, wildfires and even deaths.

Seattle, Washington reached 108 degrees, breaking a record it had just set a few days earlier. Two locations in Washington state reached 118 degrees.

Outrage over an Amazon warehouse in Kent, Washington has been heated since an anonymous warehouse worker spoke up about mistreatment of employees during the heatwave.

The Seattle Times reported Kent Amazon warehouse was hosting what they call "power hours," where employees are told to work as quickly as possible for an hour to increase their productivity.

The employee said about the "power hours":

"I was sweating immediately."

On Sunday, management gave out iced neck scarves and drinking water.

Previously, the warehouse implemented "massive" fans on the floor, but not all fans were in working condition. Normally the building is cooled by large ceiling fans, but the temperatures do not go lower than ten degrees below the temperature outside.

Amazon spokesperson Maria Boschetti made a statement about the conditions:

"In an unprecedented heatwave like this, we're glad that we installed climate control in our fulfillment centers many years ago,"
"We have systems in place that constantly measure the temperature in the building and the safety team monitors temperature on every floor individually."
"We're also making sure that everyone has easy access to water and can take time off if they choose to, though we're finding that many people prefer to be in our buildings because of the A/C."

Boschetti also claimed workers preferred to be inside the warehouse instead of outside. They did not comment on the "power hours" or readouts of temperatures of the facilities.

The anonymous Amazon employee said:

"I'm really surprised at how ill-prepared they are, given we have known it would be this hot for a little bit now."

Nation wide, the company told delivery drivers to take extra breaks throughout the day. One manager specifically said they would be paid for 4 hours of work if they could deliver at least five packages that Sunday.

As the news goes to Twitter, people are outraged over the mistreatment of these workers within the warehouse.

Amazon has been known to fight back on employees unionizing, specifically in Alabama.

The Amazon Labor Union is forming in Staten Island.

They're asking for pay raises, time-off increases, policy improvements on things like longer breaks, COVID protections, less mandatory overtime, and building closures due to hazardous weather, and employee advocacy.

According to The Guardian, the fight continues.

Chris Smalls, who was recently terminated for organizing protests at a Staten Island facility, said this about unionizing:

"When I do talk to workers, I tell them I was fired wrongfully because I tried to protect workers' health and safety, and that can happen to you."
"You can complain or submit a grievance, and they could just terminate you or target you to be terminated, or retaliate against you."
"And there's no protection, so the only way we're going to be protected is by forming that union."

It will be a long road to unionizing at Amazon at this rate, but it seems with the current conditions workers everywhere find this necessary.