Former employees said they were aggressively monitored and forced to pee in bottles in order to meet quotas.
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3 min read
According to NBC News, Amazon is facing a number of worrying allegations, including attempts to silence workers who wanted to organize and step up employee surveillance.
On the online marketplace, there are currently at least 37 charges filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), some of which date back to February 2020 and are from 20 cities across the country, according to the point of sale. The complaints, which are three times the number of similar complaints filed against Amazon in 2019, allege the company has tried repeatedly to prevent workers from unionizing.
Workers in camps in cities like Chicago, New York and Minneapolis have reportedly called for improved working conditions through strikes and protests in recent weeks. But Amazon responded in kind: the billion-dollar company fired key organizers, stepped up its anti-union propaganda efforts and monitored workers more closely, according to NBC News.
Several former workers who were laid off told the outlet that they had been aggressively interrogated for participating in union efforts, alleging the company had selectively enforced policies on social distancing and the use of offensive language. Some of these workers also accused Amazon of making allegations against them that appear to have led to racial stereotypes.
However, Leah Seay, an Amazon spokeswoman, denied these claims.
"We have no tolerance for racism or retaliation of any kind, and in many cases these complaints come from people who have acted inappropriately toward employees and been fired as a result," she told NBC News. "We work hard to make our teams feel supported and will always stand by our decision to take action when their colleagues feel threatened or excluded by someone."
At least one employee argued differently, however, telling the point of sale that the company had filled its warehouse with anti-union banners and even posted a sign over a toilet cubicle. Another worker said he was suspended for three months after breaking a new social distancing rule that banned employees from staying on-site for more than 15 minutes after the end of their shift.
Labor experts told NBC News that Amazon was stepping up surveillance to keep track of how quickly its employees were packing and sorting items – presumably to see how productive they were with their time. Seay shot down that claim, telling the point of sale that the company was tracking inventory instead.
The charges were released at a time when the Intercept recently announced that Amazon was aware that its drivers had publicly emptied and urinated in a desperate effort to meet quotas. The company reportedly refused to reduce the workload of its drivers despite internally handling the "unsanitary garbage" that was left in its trucks.
The NLRB is currently examining whether the allegations made by complainants in the 20 cities "warrant a consolidated effort between regions," according to NBC News.