Opinions & Editorials

Amazon hurts people

Amazon forces its employees to work in unsafe conditions and not enough people know about it or how their purchases contribute to this. The more we, as consumers, make purchases from Amazon, the more we enable these dangerous work environments.  

In 2020, it seems as if everyone is an Amazon user. The site, which allows you to browse through thousands of products that can arrive at your house in just two days, has become a dominant provider in almost every market.  

Amazon’s reach over the past 15 years has grown tremendously because of the capitalist system we live in. Not only does the company specialize in quick and easy online shopping, but Amazon also recently purchased Whole Foods, an organic grocer found nationwide.  

Most consumers do not realize the dangerous and undesirable conditions Amazon warehouse workers must endure to complete their everyday job. Let me tell you a little bit about them before you make your next online purchase.  

An average of 1.6 million packages are shipped each day, requiring a strong and steady workforce in Amazon warehouses. To accomplish this great task, one would think that Amazon’s working conditions would need to be perfectly ideal so that it could maintain its efficiency promise to its customers, right?  

Well, instead of placing them in a safe space everyday, Amazon is willing to let its workers be injured on the job as long as the packages are at someone’s house two days later.   

Demanding conditions for workers include having to scan 300 items each hour. Unsafe conditions have injured workers as they have tripped over ladders or had heavy boxes fall on them. Injury rates at the Staten Island facility are three times the national average for warehouses. If workers do not make their rate of items packaged per hour or items processed, they risk being fired.  

The pressure put on the workers is more than need be. The company has plenty of workers to sustain the efficiency promise that they boast of. Grueling working conditions should not be necessary to run a large-scale business. I understand that Amazon is a larger company than most and has a strict schedule that must be followed, but I feel that if the health and safety of workers is being put below revenue, a company is in the wrong mindset.  

Workers who by law are required to receive disability accommodations have even reported being forcibly put into positions that they are unable to work in. This is incredibly unethical, and supporting a company that endorses putting workers its in an environment which it knows they are not fit for is so wrong.  

And now, in the presence of a pandemic, workers have been forced to strike until safer conditions were made to prevent the further spread between Amazon warehouse employees. Employees shouldn’t have had to protest to receive better treatment during a world health crisis. It should’ve been given to them.  

Since March, more than 20,000 Amazon employees have tested positive for COVID-19. Ten of its workers even died of the virus. The company has made recent boasts of its initiatives to stop the spread, including frequent tests and temperature checks at work sites. 

But is the company doing enough? How many workers’ lives is your purchase worth? Especially when you could get it from a company that takes better care of its employees?  

I find it hard to understand how so many people can quickly forget how Amazon has treated its workers. Everyday they are forced into unsafe and extremely undesirable conditions. When news of how the workers were being treated first came out, everyone cared and was posting on their Instagram stories. But here we are now: everyone has forgotten and is once again furthering the problem that Amazon has created.  

Growing up, I remember being told countless times to “practice what you preach.” But if we are preaching that it is not right to support big businesses that have such little care for its employees and then supporting that business ourselves, are we making any positive changes?  

Obviously it would take most people in the world boycotting Amazon to make significant changes. But, if more people slowly learn the terrible conditions workers are forced into, changes could be made. Amazon could be forced to bring the pressure on workers down and to give them better and safer conditions. What needs to happen is we all need to be more aware of the companies they support.  

If you are backing a company that goes directly against what you tell others to be wary of, you are being a hypocrite. I urge you to research the companies you choose to support, and don’t support those who do not care about their workers.  

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