I Worked at an Amazon Fulfillment Center; They Treat Workers Like Robots

"If your only interaction with Amazon is packages arriving on your doorstep, it can be hard to understand what workers are unhappy about, or why one described his fulfillment center as an “existential sh-thole,” or why so many others shared stories about crying at work.

I’m among them. I took a job in an Amazon fulfillment center in Indiana over a few weeks–along with a call center in North Carolina and a McDonald’s in San Francisco–to investigate the experience of low-wage work.

I wasn’t prepared for how exhausting working at Amazon would be. It took my body two weeks to adjust to the agony of walking 15 miles a day and doing hundreds of squats. But as the physical stress got more manageable, the mental stress of being held to the productivity standards of a robot became an even bigger problem.

The more human a worker is, the less productive and desirable she is in the cold eyes of the market. And today’s technology makes it possible for employers to force workers to suppress their humanity or risk losing their jobs. I’d bet that most of you, even those with white collar jobs, can already identify those same kinds of metrics and monitoring technologies creeping into your daily life.

Those Amazon workers want to be treated like human beings. Sounds reasonable to me."

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