As Whole Foods workers push back against the crushing demands of their Amazonian overlords, stories of more labor abuses perpetuated by the e-commerce giant – which has developed a reputation for ruthless efficiency – are coming to light.
The latest horror story was published on Tuesday by Business Insider, and purports to tell the stories of drivers for Amazon delivery subcontractors who complain about unsafe working conditions and pressure to deliver packages on time at all costs – even if it means speeding, peeing in bottles or delaying critical medical care.
In interviews over the course of eight months, drivers described a variety of alleged abuses, including lack of overtime pay, missing wages, intimidation, and favoritism. Drivers also described a physically demanding work environment in which, under strict time constraints, they felt pressured to drive at dangerously high speeds, blow stop signs, and skip meal and bathroom breaks.
Many of their accounts were supported by text messages, photographs, internal emails, legal filings, and peers.
BI reportedly spoke with 31 current or former drivers for its subcontracted “Amazon Flex” delivery service. These drivers have become a crucial part of its push to circumvent FedEx and UPS, and some of the stories that the organization managed to corroborate wold be unacceptable anywhere else.
The BI story began with one worker’s story about being told by their supervisor to drop off their packages before heading to the hospital after slicing his hand to the bone.
Zachariah Vargas was six hours into his shift delivering packages for Amazon.
He was about to drop off a package when he accidentally slammed the door of his truck on his hand. The door clicked shut, trapping his middle and ring fingers.
Once he freed his fingers, the blood began to pour. Both of Vargas’ arms started to shake involuntarily. The lacerations were deep. Vargas thought he glimpsed bone when he wiped away the blood.
Panicked, Vargas called his dispatch supervisor, who was working at a nearby Amazon facility.
He said he received no sympathy.
“The first thing they asked was, ‘How many packages do you have left?’” he told Business Insider.