The extent Amazon scrutinizes its staff has been revealed after 13,000 disciplinary notices were handed out at a single warehouse in one year.
Reuters reveals how Amazon staffer Gerald Bryson had spent three days manually counting thousands of products at the warehouse.
Afterward, his boss handed him a “Supportive Feedback Document.”
It revealed Bryson made 22 mistakes, including counting 19 goods in a storage container that really held 20.
The notification indicated that if Bryson made this mistake six times in a year, he would be dismissed from Amazon’s Staten Island warehouse, which is one of the largest in the United States.
According to Reuters, previously unseen Internal Amazon memos reveal how the business routinely monitored workers’ performance in minute detail and chastised those who fell even marginally short of goals – often even before their shift finished.
Amazon issued more than 13,000 so-called “disciplines” at Bryson’s warehouse alone in a single year ending April 2020.
Around that period, the plant employed around 5,300 people.
The data and interviews of current and former employees demonstrate that Amazon line workers are under great pressure to accomplish jobs as properly and swiftly as the firm requires, creating a climate in which some workers claim Amazon has fuelled unionization attempts across the country.
Bryson’s workplace voted in March to become Amazon’s first organized warehouse in the United States, and employees from more than 100 other locations nationally are attempting to follow suit.
Amazon provided these documents in response to an NLRB complaint over Bryson’s dismissal in April 2020.
Many of these records were also included in a separate and continuing federal court complaint filed by the NLRB to curb what it called Amazon’s “flagrant unfair labor practices,” which the corporation contested in court papers.
In a statement, Amazon said the goals it sets are “fair and based on what the majority of the team is actually accomplishing.”
The company says it delivers more praise to workers than criticism.
Amazon said: “We give a lot of feedback to employees throughout the year to help them succeed and make sure they understand expectations.”
Kathy Drew King, regional director of the NLRB’s Brooklyn office, said the board “has vigorously sought” Amazon’s compliance with labor law.
An administrative law judge ordered Bryson’s reinstatement in April after concluding that the shop had improperly dismissed him for protesting workplace safety concerns.
Amazon is appealing the judge’s verdict, claiming in a statement that Bryson was fired for defaming a co-worker during a protest in the warehouse parking lot. Bryson said the employee verbally abused him.
Bryson, now a union organizer, added that he isn’t sure he’ll return.
He said: “If I walk back through those doors, it’s going to show the workers that they can fight.”
Amazon told the judge in Bryson’s case that it could not meet NLRB demands in a subpoena to provide the thousands of disciplinary notices it delivered to employees that year, calling the requirement “unduly burdensome.”
However, it provided statistics for what it called “disciplines” .
These included firings, suspensions and warnings at three warehouses, and it turned over scores of personnel files.
Between 2015 and 2021, there were over 600 good, negative, or neutral notifications for workers.
After first being warned in writing about mistakes, Bryson said he slowed down to get the count right.
On Dec. 6 that year, he was faulted for tallying 295 goods per hour, when the company expected 478.
He told Reuters that he tried going twice as fast to make up for a sluggish day and agonized at his kitchen table over whether his performance had sufficed.
He got two more write-ups that month even as he picked up speed to an hourly rate of 371, the Amazon documents show.
Bryson said he just kept “counting and moving and counting and moving,” and was slapped again with write-ups for errors.
Ultimately, he blazed through nearly 8,000 items over four days in January 2019 – fast and accurate enough to clinch Amazon’s praise.
Workers in recent years have flocked to the giant retailer for wages generally higher than its biggest rivals’.
Amazon said write-ups like that are uncommon, but “it’s important to treat each other with respect, and we do not tolerate, at any level, inappropriate behavior.”