Distressed at the news of Amazon's Pennsylvania sweatshop—where workers were routinely seen being carried out on stretchers due to the unrelenting heat—Slog reader and Amazon customer Alexander sent a measured email to the Seattle-based online retail giant, threatening to take his business elsewhere if they don't provide their workers with "basic safety, dignity, and an honest wage." To which Amazon quickly responded:
At Amazon, the safety and well-being of our employees is our number one priority. We have several procedures in place to ensure the safety of our associates during the summer heat, including increased breaks, shortened shifts, constant reminders and help about hydration, and extra ice machines.
Our fulfillment team was dealing with record hot temperatures this past summer. We have air conditioning in some of our fulfillment centers — Phoenix, AZ for example — but we haven't historically had air conditioning in our East Coast fulfillment centers. We're in the process of adding air conditioning to additional fulfillment centers so that we're prepared in case what we saw this past summer becomes the new normal.
You don't historically air condition your East Coast fulfillment centers? Really, Amazon? Sure, they had an unusually extended hot spell this year, but it's not like the East Coast doesn't experience scorching weather every summer. Ask Jeff Bezos. He went to Princeton. He lived and worked in New York. It gets damn hot on the East Coast. And humid. I bet all of Jeff's Wall Street offices had air conditioning, so it's hard to imagine he wouldn't think the folks doing manual labor in his East Coast fulfillment centers might benefit from the same.
Or maybe Bezos simply chooses not to spend the money to air condition his East Coast fulfillment centers, because he's a selfish, billionaire, libertarian fuckwad?
Welcome to free market capitalism, folks, where Bezos can pay employees 11 bucks an hour (and no benefits) to swelter in a 110 degree warehouse because he can. A compassionate company that really makes the health and safety of its employees its "number one priority," would never build an East Coast warehouse without adequate air conditioning. Hell, that kind of heat and humidity isn't even good for the merchandise, let alone the workers. But you know, with jobs so scarce, who's going to complain, right?
There's a lot to admire about Amazon as a company, but its founder's whatever-the-market-will-bear attitude toward the welfare of his workers isn't one of them.