Last week, I blogged about the Mother Jones investigation into labor conditions in ecommerce warehouses. Now Fair Warning and several California newspapers have an expose on the conditions inside Schneider National Inc., one of the largest warehousing/logistics firms in the country, in California's Inland Empire. The reports documents outright criminality that subjects workers to unsafe conditions and robs them of pay for the hours they work.
According to court documents and interviews with workers:
–Crew leaders such as Soto were under orders at some warehouses to force workers to sign blank time sheets, a tactic that made it easier to cheat employees out of their rightful pay.
–Workers often were paid only for the time they spent loading and unloading trucks – not for the time they put in sweeping warehouses, labeling and restacking boxes or waiting to find out if they would be assigned work.
–High heat in the warehouses and constant pressure for speed created safety problems. These and other issues triggered an investigation that led the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, or Cal/OSHA, in January to accuse four warehouses of more than 60 workplace safety violations and to seek $256,445 in penalties.
–Many workers, classified as temporaries despite years of service, said they were threatened with being blackballed and never being hired again if they raised questions about their pay or took part in protest or unionizing efforts. Labor leaders, who announced plans in 2007 to recruit the warehouse employees, say that the intimidation and perpetual job insecurity are key reasons why their “Warehouse Workers United” campaign has failed to unionize any workers.
–Workers also were subjected to other indignities, such as being forced to pay $1 per week to rent a shirt with a company logo, and being required to show up every day, only to be sent home some days for lack of work.
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.