Prime Delivery: Amazon Workers Fainting, Carted Off on Stretchers Amid Sweltering Warehouse Heat
"If there's another oppressive heatwave like 90 or 100 degrees Fahrenheit outside, will the facility be cool enough to work?" one Amazon Staten Island employee wrote to HR
As Amazon continues fighting attempts in Staten Island, New York to form a union, Status Coup has learned of unbearably hot conditions throughout the warehouse that has resulted in workers fainting and being carted off in stretchers.
“From the moment we walk in, we’re literally dripping wet,” Natalie Monarrez, a Staten Island Amazon worker who’s part of the Amazon Labor Union [ALU] group trying to form a union, told Status Coup about the extreme heat she and others are struggling through inside the gigantic warehouse that spans 15 football fields.
“It’s disgusting, it’s really really bad,” she continued.
One Amazon worker, who requested anonymity for fear of losing their job, told Status Coup they recently witnessed four co-workers carted off on stretchers—and ambulances then called—due to the extreme heat inside the warehouse.
“Upstairs on the second and third floor was very hot; just the heat rising caused a lot of health problems,” the worker added. “It should have been closed down for the day; the conditions are not fair and we’re already working 12 hour days; it’s very similar to a prison facility.”
Derrick Palmer, one of the lead organizers with ALU and a fellow Amazon worker, echoed these concerns, telling Status Coup he saw someone faint last month and get rushed to the hospital due to the hot temperatures inside the warehouse.
In response to the sweltering heat, Amazon has provided fans for workers; many of which don’t work.
“Obviously a fan blowing the same hot air back at you doesn’t really help,” Connor Spence, another ALU member and Amazon employee, told Status Coup.
Dana Miller, another ALU member and worker, told Status Coup she’s passed HR officials in their fully air-conditioned offices wearing sweaters and hoodies.
Many workers’ faces “look red,” Spence said. As the heatwave inside the warehouse has continued, Spence and others told Status Coup they’ve recently seen a rush of ambulances zipping by as they’ve stood outside the warehouse at the ALU union tent.
Despite a slew of complaints, HR has rarely responded, Palmer said.
Status Coup obtained some of the complaints workers have recently made to HR through the company’s digital message board.
"If there's another oppressive heatwave like 90 or 100 degrees Fahrenheit outside, will the facility be cool enough to work?" Edison, an Amazon employee, wrote to HR.
Another worker complained that they’re working in 78-80 degree temperatures inside the warehouse.
“It is still way too hot even with station fans how is the system working properly if internal temperatures are 78-80 degrees,” Dayna wrote. “Please look into this until it’s fixed properly and comfortable.”
Beyond the hot temperatures workers are suffering through, multiple water stations have been running empty, ALU member Monarrez complained to HR.
While water stations lack water, Amazon has passed out warm water bottles.
“We don’t know how long they’ve been sitting or where they’ve been sitting,” Miller told Status Coup. “They taste very cloudy; nobody drinks it because this water tasted horrible.”
Workers who help move products at the outbound shipping dock also voiced frustration to HR.
“How about some fans for the palletize lanes and H wings on the outbound ship dock. We sweat too,” Richard wrote.
“That’s where we’re getting a lot of the nosebleeds and a lot of the fainting spells from people,” Miller told Status Coup about workers suffering from the heat in the outbound section of the warehouse that deals with shipping products outside of the warehouse.
There, workers have to enter extremely hot trucks for 15-20 minutes at a time.
“I’ve seen people looking a little sick and they’re being escorted somewhere,” Miller said. Making matters worse, pregnant female workers have been suffering through the sweltering conditions, experiencing severe nausea throughout the day.
In response to workers’ complaints, an Amazon spokesperson told Status Coup the company installed “climate control in our fulfillment centers, including JFK8, many years ago.” The spokesperson added that the systems provide A/C to all areas of the building, “constantly measure the temperature,” and have safety team members who “monitor temperatures on each floor individually.”
Amazon also claimed their teams have “easy access” to water and can take time off if they choose to. “Though we’re finding that many people prefer to be in our buildings because of the A/C,” the spokesperson said.
“Absolutely false,” Palmer said in response to Amazon’s claims. “How often does the safety team monitor the temperature throughout the day? They don’t specify when or how often during the week.”
Palmer also contested the company’s claim that people can take time off if they choose, pointing out the company doesn’t specify how much time workers can take.
When Status Coup pushed back on Amazon’s claims—citing several workers’ complaints as well as on the company’s digital message boards—the spokesperson didn’t respond.
In response to workers’ complaints, HR has essentially told them it’s all in their head, Miller said.
“They say there’s nothing wrong with the inside temperature, everything is fine, we checked the cooling systems on top of the roof.”
The Staten Island warehouse isn’t the only Amazon warehouse where employees are laboring through the heat.
In Kent, Washington, warehouse temperatures recently neared 90 degrees by midday, a worker told The Seattle Times, with many work stations not having functioning work fans.
Despite the unbearable heat, some departments in the Washington warehouse were running “power hours” that call for workers to increase their speed.
“I was sweating immediately,” a worker told the Times. “I’m really surprised at how ill-prepared they are, given we have known it would be this hot for a little bit now.”
Ultimately, some employees went home early as a result of the heat.
The unacceptably hot temperatures in warehouses coast to coast is happening after Amazon’s profits soared 84 percent in 2020.
During the same period workers have been fainting and being taken away on stretchers, Amazon CEO issued parting words to the company’s shareholders as he recently stepped down from his role as CEO.
Amazon is “Earth's best employer and Earth's safest place to work,” Bezos wrote.
Clearly, the workers essentially melting at their workstations strongly disagree.
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