In a Year, Amazon Disciplined Workers 13,000 Times at Now-Unionized Warehouse

Over the course of just one year ending at the beginning of the pandemic, Amazon issued thousands of disciplinary notes against workers for what seem like nearly inconsequential mistakes in a warehouse that’s now the only unionized Amazon warehouse in the U.S., new reporting finds.

Reuters reports that, in the year ending in April 2020, the company issued 13,000 “disciplines” in the Staten Island, New York JFK8 warehouse. This is an average of 2.5 disciplines per worker in the warehouse. Voted earlier in the yearTo unionize with Amazon Labor Union (ALU).

The discipline, which were issued for meeting 94 percent of all the requirements company’s punishing productivity quotas instead of 100 percent, reveal just how closely Amazon monitors and tracks its workers’ movements – and how quickly the company will threaten its employees with termination if they make small errors just a handful of times.

According to court documents, there were other reasons the company disciplined workers. Amazon cited one worker for being off task for six minutes during an overnight shift in New Jersey; another worker for exceeding their break time by four minutes, despite Amazon’s supposed five minute grace period for breaks.

Another worker in New York City was issued a violation notice after picking up orders for fulfillment four times in a single week in 2019. This despite the fact the worker had correctly picked over 15,800 products during that time.

According to the company, the majority of feedback is related to attendance. For example, employees who take a break beyond their limits. It says that its productivity goals are “fair,” though labor advocates have said that Amazon’s quotas often lead to injury or even death, playing a role in the company’s warehouses being One of the most dangerous places to work in the industry.

These supposed violations were documented in internal company records that were released as part of the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) legal actions against Amazon, which includes the board’s complaint over former JFK8 employee Gerald Bryson’s termination in 2020. Bryson was alleged to have made 22 errors while counting thousands upon thousands of products in 2018, and was then disciplined by a manager. The disciplinary note stated that he would be fired if he committed five more violations in the same year.

“You’re sitting there worried about whether you’re going to have a job tomorrow because your rate is not where it’s supposed to be,” Bryson told Reuters. “It was horrible.” He was disciplined multiple times over the course of a month, even as he sped up his pace at the behest of management and the work began to wear down his body.

Bryson was involved at the time in labor organizing efforts in the warehouse and was fired. helped leadJFK8 workers staged a walkout in April 2020. The NLRB in April ordered Amazon to reinstate Bryson and pay his wages.

In a separate lawsuit concerning the JFK8 warehouse, the NLRB has also been seeking to stop the company’s “flagrant unfair labor practices,” as the board refers to them.

Court papers show that similar numbers of disciplinary notices were issued to warehouses over a similar time period. Robbinsville, New Jersey issued more than 15,000 notices to its roughly 4,200 employees in the year ended April 2020. This is approximately 3.5 notices per employee. Another warehouse in North Haven, Connecticut issued more than 5K disciplinary notes to its 4,800 employees over the same time period.