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Mother Jones

New Law Targets Amazon Quotas

California will restrict injury causing quotas from companies like Amazon

Brian Young's picture
Sep 24, 2021

Fresh off of his overwhelming win in the California recall election, Governor Gavin Newsome has signed into law a first-of-its-kind bill to help workers at Amazon.

The bill, AB701, gives workers at Amazon and other warehouses the power to fight back against dangerous quotas. As UCOMM Blog has previously reported, Amazon workers have faced an increasingly dangerous workplace which some attribute to the almost inhuman quotas the company places on warehouse workers.

“We cannot allow corporations to put profit over people. The hardworking warehouse employees who have helped sustain us during these unprecedented times should not have to risk injury or face punishment as a result of exploitative quotas that violate basic health and safety,” Newsom said in a statement.

Under the new law, warehouses will need to disclose quotas and work-speed metrics to employees and government agencies. The company would also be prohibited from issuing penalties for workers who stop working to use the bathroom or for other health and safety issues like an injury. It would also prohibit retaliation against workers who complain.

The new law also allows current and former workers who allege illegal labor practices to pursue injunctive relief, meaning they can file a lawsuit to try and reverse their termination.

“We’re not going to allow a corporation that puts profits over workers’ bodies to set labor standards back decades just for ‘same-day delivery,’” Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), the bill’s author, said in a statement. “As workers are increasingly surveilled on the job and supervised by algorithms, AB 701 is just the beginning of our work to regulate dangerous quotas and keep employers that have operated above the law in check.”

AB 701 also creates penalties for employers that don’t take safety seriously. If an employer is found to have an annual employee injury rate that is 1.5 times higher than the industry average, then California’s OSHA would be required to report the entity to the state’s labor commissioner. They would then look further into the issue at the warehouse and determine the penalty. Based on current injury numbers Amazon’s injury rate is about 2 times the warehouse industry average.

“This one goes out to all the Amazon warehouse workers who have bravely spoken out about the grueling conditions at their jobs and all the workers, union members, and labor allies across all industries and our state, who stood with warehouse workers at Amazon and other corporations,” said the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor in a statement on Facebook.  “YOU led this fight and SOLIDARITY won this fight, because WORK SHOULDN'T HURT.”

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