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Read This if you’ve ever bought anything from Amazon
Posted: 01 December 2013 10:24 AM   [ Ignore ]
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There were photographs in the original email, but they won’t be visible here.  You can see then online by searching for Amazon Warehouses.

I don’t know how much of this is true, but even the Wikipedia article says Amazon employees are badly exploited and underpaid (see below) so maybe we shouldn’t shop Amazon any more than we should shop WalMart (or other big chains) if we care about exploited workers. Maybe we’ll just have to stop shopping altogether because, IMO, they ALL cruelly exploit their workforces one way or another. 

I do know that not everything is sent from Amazon warehouses and a lot comes directly from independent suppliers, but I don’t know what percentage is sent from Amazon warehouses. My book publisher contact is very much down on Amazon, and refuses to buy anything from them or to sell through them because they apply pressure to publishers to cut their prices to the bone and they’re powerful enough to make a negative impact on the whole book publishing industry. They probably have a similar negative impact on other industries.

Lois

As the world’s largest online retailer, Amazon needs somewhere to put all of those products. The solution? Giant warehouses. Eighty to be exact. Strategically located near key shipping hubs around the world.

The warehouses themselves are massive, with some over 1.2 million square feet in size (111,484 sq m). And at the heart of this global operation are people (over 65,000 of them), and a logistics system known as chaotic storage.
 
Chaotic storage is like organized confusion. It’s an organic shelving system without permanent areas or sections. That means there is no area just for books, or a place just for televisions (like you might expect in a retail store layout). The products’ characteristics and attributes are irrelevant. What’s important is the unique barcode associated with every product that enters the warehouse.
 
Every single shelf space inside an Amazon warehouse has a barcode. And every incoming product that requires storage is assigned a specific barcode that matches the shelf space in which it will be stored. This allows free space to be filled quickly and efficiently.

At the heart of the operation is a sophisticated database that tracks and monitors every single product that enters/leaves the warehouse and keeps a tally on every single shelf space and whether it’s empty or contains a product.
 
There are several key advantages to the chaotic storage system. First is flexibility. With chaotic storage, freed-up space can be refilled immediately. Second is simplicity. New employees don’t need to learn where types of products are located. They simply need to find the storage shelf within the warehouse. You don’t need to know what the product is, just where it is. Lastly is optimization.

Amazon must handle millions and millions of orders. That means that at any given moment there is a long list of products that need to be “picked” from the shelves and prepared for shipment. Since there is a database that knows every product required for shipment and the location of each product inside the warehouse, an optimized route can be provided to employees responsible for fulfillment.
 
Since Amazon deals with such a wide variety of products there are a few exceptions to the rule. Really fast-moving articles do not adhere to the same storage system since they enter and leave the warehouse so quickly. Really bulky and heavy products still require separate storage areas and perishable goods are not ideal for obvious reasons.


In this storage system a wide variety of products can be found located next to each other. A necklace could be located beside a DVD and underneath a set of power tools. This arbitrary placement can even help with accuracy as it makes mix-ups less likely when picking orders for shipment.

Overall it’s a fascinating system that at its core is powered by a complex database yet run by a simple philosophy.
It’s “Chaotic Storage”.
 
 [the following is from Wikipedia]

Alleged mistreatment of individual sellers

Amazon has faced scrutiny from numerous individual sellers who have claimed that Amazon unexpectedly closed their accounts, and subsequently withheld their funds for indefinite time frames. According to Section 5.k of the Amazon Seller’s Participation agreement, Amazon may earn interest on funds collected from buyers before they are disbursed to sellers, meaning Amazon can increase their earnings by delaying disbursement.

Poor working conditions

Amazon has attracted widespread criticism by both current and former employees, as well as the media and politicians for poor working conditions. In fall 2011 it was publicized that at the Allentown, Pennsylvania warehouse, workers had to carry out work in100 °F (38 °C) heat, resulting in employees becoming extremely uncomfortable and suffering from dehydration and collapse. Loading-bay doors were not opened to allow in fresh air as “managers were worried about theft”. Amazon’s initial response was to pay for an ambulance to sit outside on call to cart away overheated employees.

Some workers, “pickers”, who travel the building with a trolley and a handheld scanner “picking” customer orders can walk up to 15 miles a day back and forward, and if they fall behind on their targets, they can be reprimanded. The handheld scanners feed back to the employee real time information on how fast or slowly they are going, and also serve to allow Team Leads and Area Managers to track the specific locations of employees and how much “idle time” they gain when not working.

In a German television report broadcast in February 2013, journalists Diana Löbl and Peter Onneken conducted a covert investigation at the distribution center of Amazon in the town of Bad Hersfeld in the German state of Hesse. The report highlights the behavior of some of the security guards who apparently either had a Neo-nazi background or deliberately dressed in Neo-Nazi apparel, and who were intimidating foreign and temporary female workers at its distribution centres.

Amazon UK
On 2 August 2013 the Daily Mail ran an expose outing Amazon UK for employee GPS ‘tagging’ and subjecting them to harsh working conditions, describing employees as ‘human robots’, the newspaper said that Amazon employed ‘controversial’ zero-hour contractsas a tool to reprimand staff. A Channel 4 documentary broadcast on the 1st August 2013 employed secret cameras within Amazon UK’s Rugeley warehouse documenting worker abuses and made similar claim to the Daily Mail calling the working practices ‘horrendous and exhausting’.

There’s more at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazon.com#Poor_working_conditions
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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Posted: 01 December 2013 11:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Lois - 01 December 2013 10:24 AM

Maybe we’ll just have to stop shopping altogether because,  

ohh        grrr        shock

 

Amazon UK
On 2 August 2013 the Daily Mail ran an expose outing Amazon UK for employee GPS ‘tagging’ and subjecting them to harsh working conditions, describing employees as ‘human robots’, the newspaper said that Amazon employed ‘controversial’ zero-hour contractsas a tool to reprimand staff. A Channel 4 documentary broadcast on the 1st August 2013 employed secret cameras within Amazon UK’s Rugeley warehouse documenting worker abuses and made similar claim to the Daily Mail calling the working practices ‘horrendous and exhausting’.

There’s more at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazon.com#Poor_working_conditions

 

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Posted: 02 December 2013 04:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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The “Amazon.com” warehouses sound like a pain in the ass to work in, but I don’t agree that the workers are being exploited.

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Posted: 02 December 2013 05:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I don’t think we can entirely stop shopping.  What are you going to do?  Make your own TP?  Good luck being Mr. Whipple.  I think a better way to go about it, even at Walmart, is to buy only what you need and nothing more.  That means, for examples, don’t buy videos and CDs, avoid buying things like Twinkies and HoHo (not all that good for you anyway), or if you need a new coffee maker, don’t go top of the line with all the bells and whistles.  Only buy what you need, such as toilet paper and nutritious foods, the bare basics.  Yes, for many this is easier said than done, but I think if people curbed their appetites for non-essential goods, that could help.  Besides, even at Walmart’s prices, who can afford a new TV or stereo?

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“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

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Posted: 02 December 2013 05:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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There are other places to shop as well besides the mega-warehouse stores. We patronize local stores for groceries, veggies (all locally grown) and meat supplied by locally owned slaughterhouses. Shopping at Walmart is usually a nightmare as they’ve discovered self check out isles, replacing cashiers and saving the company millions. You don’t have to pay wages and benefits to a machine. As to Amazon, we have an outlet in the area but no one is complaining about the working conditions, yet. They pay above minimum wage, have a decent benefits package and no complaints about the working conditions. This of course is anecdotal from those workers I’ve met. I hate to hear disparaging remarks about the company; I buy practically all my E-books from them but then there’s always EBay where I get my hard copies. Also, just announced this morning, Amazon is toying with the idea of using drones to deliver their packages right to your door! Just imagine eliminating thousands of jobs, no more delivery trucks. Of course the spokesman stated that this is yeeeeears away, maybe five.


Cap’t Jack

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Posted: 03 December 2013 05:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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The current Nation magazine has a pertinent article: http://www.thenation.com/article/177377/holiday-crush

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Posted: 03 December 2013 06:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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This is true.  Almost every place of business find ways to lop off time off your pay check even when I currently work, which isn’t temporary or alike, and what’s worse is front line v back line.  Front line are people serving food (mostly women) and back line cooks (mostly men, if not all men at any given moment).  Front line really does make a dollar less than back line.  Think about it.  If that isn’t pay inequality I don’t know what is, but the reason they give is that cooks do more strenuous work and therefore deserve the dollar more.  At then end of the day, if business is good, you get your full allotted hours, if not, you get sent home early, but towards the end of the semester, business become slow and they start sending people home after the lunch rush.  Not everyone, just a few they randomly select or scheduled to let off early that particular day.  Not only that, I was entitled to a raise after one year, as well as some back pay, but my manager and I ended up having to fight for it, which took a couple pay checks, but I finally got it.  My only irritation with the raise is that it was only 15 cents/hour and many cooks got 20 cents or more, making the inequality even greater, but that’s not the only issue I have a beef with.  Since the recession hit hard, the competition for a position in my field, entry level positions in the psychology field, has become even stiffer.  For every one position, several people are competing OR the Catholics have become even more forceful with their beliefs at the Catholic hospital, right down to prayer, including such questions in their applications now (abortion, prayer, etc.), which ends up keeping me out of the running for even job at one of their mental health facilities, because I can’t give the answer they want to read on their applications, because their dogma goes against my ethics.  The other hospital isn’t religiously oriented, but the competition is stiffer because not everyone shares the Catholics’ dogma.  Working conditions have studiedly gotten worse over the years and wages have been drastically held down to the point of placing more in poverty and if we kept up with the economy, minimum would be, according to sources I have to hunt down again (after work), almost $20/hour.

Truth is, it’s bad with almost every job out there.

As a side note, I’m not a fan of E-books, in part because I don’t have a device to take them with me to read and in part, I like solid books that I can hold in my hands, not edited virtual copies (not full length, and parts of the story removed to save on size/space).  When it comes to books, I’m old fashion and I love a bookcase, if not several bookcases, full of books.  I don’t know why, but gives me an odd sense of pride and accomplishment, even a strange sense of status (whatever it is), to have shelves full of books.  When it comes to books, I guess I’m a throw back to the old days, but I was raised by readers, who has many bookcases loaded with books.  You couldn’t walk into a room without a bookcase full of books in my grandparents’ home.  It was like a candy store of reading for me.

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“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

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Posted: 03 December 2013 08:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Mriana - 02 December 2013 05:41 AM

I don’t think we can entirely stop shopping.  What are you going to do?  Make your own TP?  Good luck being Mr. Whipple.  I think a better way to go about it, even at Walmart, is to buy only what you need and nothing more.  That means, for examples, don’t buy videos and CDs, avoid buying things like Twinkies and HoHo (not all that good for you anyway), or if you need a new coffee maker, don’t go top of the line with all the bells and whistles.  Only buy what you need, such as toilet paper and nutritious foods, the bare basics.  Yes, for many this is easier said than done, but I think if people curbed their appetites for non-essential goods, that could help.  Besides, even at Walmart’s prices, who can afford a new TV or stereo?

No, we can’t stop shopping and I admit to shopping on Amazon, at Walmart and Target. It’s just that we should keep in mind whose blood sweat and tears are bringing us the low prices.

Lois

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Posted: 03 December 2013 08:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Thevillageatheist - 02 December 2013 05:56 AM

There are other places to shop as well besides the mega-warehouse stores. We patronize local stores for groceries, veggies (all locally grown) and meat supplied by locally owned slaughterhouses. Shopping at Walmart is usually a nightmare as they’ve discovered self check out isles, replacing cashiers and saving the company millions. You don’t have to pay wages and benefits to a machine. As to Amazon, we have an outlet in the area but no one is complaining about the working conditions, yet. They pay above minimum wage, have a decent benefits package and no complaints about the working conditions. This of course is anecdotal from those workers I’ve met. I hate to hear disparaging remarks about the company; I buy practically all my E-books from them but then there’s always EBay where I get my hard copies. Also, just announced this morning, Amazon is toying with the idea of using drones to deliver their packages right to your door! Just imagine eliminating thousands of jobs, no more delivery trucks. Of course the spokesman stated that this is yeeeeears away, maybe five.


Cap’t Jack

Amazon to deliver by drone? Don’t believe the hype

Jeff Bezos’s ‘plan’ for drone deliveries is little more than a publicity stunt – timed for the biggest online shopping day of the year
Bezos’ neat trick has knocked several real stories about Amazon out of the way. Last week’s Panorama investigation into Amazon’s working and hiring practices, suggesting that the site’s employees had an increased risk of mental illness, is the latest in a long line of pieces about the company’s working conditions – zero-hour contracts, short breaks, and employees’ every move tracked by internal systems. Amazon’s drone debacle also moved discussion of its tax bill – another long-running controversy, sparked by the Guardian’s revelation last year that the company had UK sales of £7bn but paid no UK corporation tax – to the margins. The technology giants – Amazon, Google, Microsoft et al – have have huge direct reach to audiences and customers, the money to hire swarms of PR and communications staff, and a technology press overwhelmingly happy to incredulously print almost every word, rather than to engage in the much harder task of actually holding them to account.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/02/amazon-drone-delivery-jeff-bezos-hype?CMP=ema_565

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Posted: 03 December 2013 08:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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mid atlantic - 02 December 2013 04:50 AM

The “Amazon.com” warehouses sound like a pain in the ass to work in, but I don’t agree that the workers are being exploited.

It depends on your definition of “exploited.” Being eligible for food stamps and Medicaid while working a full time job is one of my definitions.

Lois

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Posted: 03 December 2013 12:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Amazon to deliver by drone? Don’t believe the hype

Yeah, I read the article also. Not sure I want to see a smiley faced drone show up at my door anyway. Maybe now workers will realize the need to unionize and create a working relationship with management that benefits all employees and employers. Improved working conditions and a fair wage i.e. cost of living raises increases output. Incentives and merit pay would also help. this won’t happen however until the employees make it happen. The Walmart workers are already hitting the streets. It remains to be seen if the Walton’s will be gracious enough to share some of their wealth with those who peddle the goods. Same for Amazon.


Cap’t Jack

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Posted: 03 December 2013 10:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Lois - 03 December 2013 08:33 AM
mid atlantic - 02 December 2013 04:50 AM

The “Amazon.com” warehouses sound like a pain in the ass to work in, but I don’t agree that the workers are being exploited.

It depends on your definition of “exploited.” Being eligible for food stamps and Medicaid while working a full time job is one of my definitions.

Lois

Damn Lois, you have a high bar. smile

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Posted: 03 December 2013 10:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Mriana - 03 December 2013 06:21 AM

As a side note, I’m not a fan of E-books, in part because I don’t have a device to take them with me to read and in part, I like solid books that I can hold in my hands, not edited virtual copies (not full length, and parts of the story removed to save on size/space).  When it comes to books, I’m old fashion and I love a bookcase, if not several bookcases, full of books.  I don’t know why, but gives me an odd sense of pride and accomplishment, even a strange sense of status (whatever it is), to have shelves full of books.  When it comes to books, I guess I’m a throw back to the old days, but I was raised by readers, who has many bookcases loaded with books.  You couldn’t walk into a room without a bookcase full of books in my grandparents’ home.  It was like a candy store of reading for me.

I feel this way about books, too. Although I do have a nook e-reader, I can only get e-books from Barnes and Noble, so I don’t have to deal with Amazon.

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Posted: 04 December 2013 01:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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I love my e-reader. I have a Nook too. It is wonderful taking my entire library with me when I step out of the house.

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Posted: 04 December 2013 11:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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We patronize local stores for groceries, veggies (all locally grown) and meat supplied by locally owned slaughterhouses

Doesn’t mean employees of locally owned businesses are less exploited.  I try to shop in stores where the employees are unionized.

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Posted: 04 December 2013 12:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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garythehuman - 04 December 2013 11:00 AM

We patronize local stores for groceries, veggies (all locally grown) and meat supplied by locally owned slaughterhouses

Doesn’t mean employees of locally owned businesses are less exploited.  I try to shop in stores where the employees are unionized.

Which ones are they? I find it next to impossible to find a retail store where employees are unionized.

Lois

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