Amazon Working Conditions Just As Bad for Delivery Drivers

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Recent news headlines have focused on the “unsafe” and “grueling” working conditions that employees labor under in Amazon warehouses across the globe. While the media focuses its attention on the warehouses, delivery drivers working for Amazon are now stepping forward to have their stories told as well. 

Amazon is famed for its lightning fast delivery times, with customers often receiving orders within the same day. These tight delivery schedules make for stressful and often hazardous working conditions that endanger drivers. 

 

Amazon Drivers Are Overworked and Underpaid

Amazon delivery drivers are reporting working ten to fourteen hours in a shift. This is in part because drivers are not allowed to return any packages from their routes, meaning drivers can make over 160 stops per shift. 

While the pay rate seems decent enough, with drivers starting at $15 an hour, this rate is actually far less than the average starting wage for other delivery drivers. For example, UPS drivers are represented by the Teamsters Union that starts their wages at $21 an hour, up to $40 an hour or more for more experienced drivers. 

 

The Amazon Mentor App Leads to Invasive Oversight for Drivers

When drivers start their shift, they first log into the Amazon “Mentor” app. The Mentor app provides information on where to leave packages, access codes to apartment buildings, and dictates every step of the drivers day. The app tracks and measures driving behaviors such as speeding, harsh braking, or making phone calls, and gives the drivers a score based on these behaviors. 

Since the Mentor app is constantly monitoring the drivers every move, it also alerts their supervisors if they deviate or stop along the route even briefly. When a van stops for longer than three minutes, a dispatcher will call the driver and ask why. This constant oversight creates a stressful environment for drivers when dropping off packages or simply trying to take a lunch or restroom break.

 

No Bathroom Breaks for Delivery Drivers

With the Mentor app constantly monitoring drivers, every stop has to be accounted for. That leaves most drivers with no time to use the restroom on their ten hour shifts. Drivers need to use public restrooms such as ones inside grocery stores, so if their route does not include an area that has such a location, drivers have to make a long detour that could cost them their job. Because of these strict measures, drivers report using empty water bottles in their vehicles instead of stopping to use the restroom.

 

Amazon Hires Contractors To Prevent Workers From Organizing

Amazon has consistently stated that they are not responsible for these working conditions because the drivers are not actually Amazon employees. That’s because Amazon uses contractors for delivery services, a move that allows them to duck responsibility, while also helping to prevent workers from organizing for better conditions. 

The Teamsters Union has been working with Amazon drivers and the delivery service providers that hire them in an attempt to curtail these exploitative practices, with the director of the Teamsters Amazon project stating, “This sort of model is problematic for the entire (delivery) industry”. 

 

Do Amazon Delivery Drivers Get Overtime?

Although drivers are being asked to work long hours with few breaks, they are still only paid flat day rates for their work with no additional pay for overtime hours. This has led to multiple class-action lawsuits being filed against the company in over ten states. 

Amazon recently agreed to pay out over $8.2 million in a class-action lawsuit alleging that they were engaging in wage-theft by refusing to properly compensate drivers. The lawsuit claims that Amazon failed to pay the minimum wage, and denied compensation for rest breaks or overtime. Amazon has also been fined $6.4 million by California regulators for similar wage-theft violations, though Amazon has stated it is appealing the fine. 

 

Workers Deserve Protections

While Amazon founder Jeff Bezos disputes Elon Musk for the title of world’s richest person, the drivers who keep his company running are struggling to pay rent, while working under increasingly stressful and unsafe conditions. 

The team at McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt have decades of experience fighting for workers, and are following these developments closely. If you work as a delivery driver for Amazon and have been subject to unfair working conditions, contact us today at 1-866-333-7715 or online via our form.  

 

 

An International Workers’ Day to Celebrate

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Personal Injury Lawyers Philadelphia PA

One of today’s Google doodles recognizes “Labour Day 2015” or “Labor Day” depending on where you are in the world. Although we celebrate Labor Day in September here in the United States, much of the world chooses today to recognize the contributions of workers. Regardless, we definitely have something to celebrate today. Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal reported that workers in the first quarter received their biggest annual gain in pay since 2008.

The May 1st date is believed to have started in Chicago, with a call from the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions, a predecessor to the AFL-CIO, that proclaimed eight hours a legal day’s labor starting on May 1, 1886. More than 300,000 workers across the United States walked off their jobs on that day. On May 4th, a confrontation between police and workers during a led to loss of life on both sides, and the incident is believed to have started the worldwide movement.

The struggle for an eight hour work day very much reminds me of the movement for a living wage today. The movement for $15 an hour so that no worker has to live in poverty has spread across the United States quickly and has seen success in a few different locations already. More can be expected as government and businesses realize that their attempts to maximize profits by minimizing pay simply aren’t sustainable. They externalize costs on the rest of society and don’t promote a stable and happy workforce.

I remember a few years ago during the financial crisis when union workers in the auto industry were lambasted for their salaries and benefits. Instead of bringing them down, the better goal should have been to find a way to bring everyone else up to a sustainable wage. We might be heading there today if the movement continues to have success.

Protests in the United States are nothing new. Our country was founded on them. The question is always whether they lead to meaningful change or fizzle out. The Occupy Wall Street movement was able to gain a lot of attention when it protested treatment of the common person in the United States. But very little real change was implemented as a result of all of the publicity. The calls for a living wage have been much more successful.

The next few years should be interesting as businesses implement wage increases in order to comply with the new government laws or simply satisfy their unhappy employees. Will they drive businesses to cut hours and raise prices? Or are the businesses opposing wage increases wrong and simply being greedy? Either way, it seems like we are living at a turning point in the power struggle between business and labor.

So I thought we would dedicate a post to the workers that we help today. We spend a lot of time discussing corporate misconduct and the technical rules of whistleblowing here. But we do so to help the individuals that bravely walk into our door to change the world for the better. To them and the other people working to make society better for employees:

Happy International Workers’ Day!

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