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A new state law in New York targets Amazon-style warehouse work quotas

Warehouse Employees Protection Act (WWPA) was signed yesterday by New York Governor Kathy Hochul. This legislation protects workers in the warehouse distribution industry from having to meet secret or illegal work speed goals. Aside from shielding warehouse workers from unreasonable labour demands, the rule would also mandate that distribution facilities provide employees with information about their performance and rights on the job.

The rule does not go after Amazon in particular, but its creators claim it was written in response to the e-commerce giant’s harsh expectations for its warehouse workers and the managerial tactics it employs to achieve those goals.

The WWPA is modelled after a similar legislation enacted in California in September (AB-701), which forbids companies from punishing employees for failing to reach quotas that weren’t disclosed to them and mandated written explanations of those quotas for all warehouse workers.

When asked why his group was pushing for the legislation, Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union president Stuart Appelbaum said, “Amazon alone has erected more than 70 locations in the state, and more than half of those facilities have been built after January 2021). Meanwhile, warehouse employees’ accident rates have been on the rise. Warehouse employees have had heart attacks, strokes, repetitive motion injuries, and permanent joint and back discomfort as a result of excessive work quotas.

According to a press statement from the United States Department of Labor dated December 16th, OSHA cited Amazon for 14 recordkeeping breaches, including failing to record and misclassifying injuries and illnesses suffered by its employees. Only six of Amazon’s currently operational 110 fulfilment facilities in the United States have been investigated for these infractions.