New York’s New Warehouse Worker Laws Sets it Sights on Amazon

Image for the article titled New York's New Warehouse Worker Law takes aim at Amazon's dystopian productivity metric

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Amazon warehouse workers in New York may finally get a reprieve from the company’s alleged allegations Soul crushing AI assisted production quotas. Those odds were partly responsible for last year’s harrowing reports from Amazon workers who admitted they were feeling put under pressure peeing in bottles to avoid performance degradation.

New York on Wednesday GOvernor Kathy Hochul signed the bill into law Warehouse Worker Protection Act, which protects these warehouse workers from disciplinary action or dismissal for meeting undisclosed quotas or for quotas that do not allow time for legally required meal and toilet breaks. Employers are required to disclose and cap productivity rates and provide their employees with records detailing their productivity expectations. It is unclear why these were not already requirements.

New York law written with Entry of Amazon’s first union, can be traced back to a similar, the first of its kind California law was passed last year. Although the legislation reportedly applies to organizations with 50 employees in a single warehouse or 500 employees statewide, the law really has its sights set on Amazon, which has seen one stunning climb in workplace injuries, which some crickets attribute to inflated rates.

“The Warehouse Worker Protection Act enacts important workplace safety measures and removes incentives for e-commerce giants like Amazon to engage in unsafe workplace practices,” New York Assembly Member Latoya Joyner said in a statement. “This legislation brings much-needed transparency into the use of onerous quotas and improves worker protections. I really appreciate that Governor Hochul signed the law into law.”

Big unions like the Teamsters also welcomed the law, which they said was necessary to combat new threats posed by Amazon’s rapid growth.

“This is a real victory in our ongoing fight for rights and collective bargaining for all warehouse workers so they have a voice at work and can protect themselves,” said Thomas Gesuald, President of Teamsters Joint Council 16.

In an email, Amazon spokeswoman Kelly Nantel told Gizmodo that the company agreed With the state’s target, they believed the legislation was based “on a misunderstanding” of Amazon’s performance metrics.

“Amazon does not have fixed quotas in our facilities. Instead, we evaluate performance based on safe and achievable expectations, and consider time and tenure, peer performance, and adherence to safe work practices,” said Nantel. “While we know we’re not perfect, we’re committed to continuous improvement when it comes to communicating with our people, listening to them, and providing them with the resources they need to succeed.”

Notwithstanding, the new legislation could conflict with Amazon’s so-called “time off task” performance metric. Critical Amazon workers claim these extreme levels are responsible for workers skipping breaks and sustaining injuries. Leaked documents from The Verge revealed Amazon used AI models to track employee productivity rates and then fired employees who weren’t up to speed. After public backlash, Amazon announced Modifications to this metric to average productivity measurements over time.

The new laws come just months after the Department of Labor and the federal attorney’s office in New York’s Southern District initiated one investigation into occupational safety and hazards in the workplace in Amazon warehouses. New York’s New Warehouse Worker Laws Sets it Sights on Amazon

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