Amazon Wage Theft, with a twist

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by vrDrew, Oct 4, 2014.

  1. vrDrew macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2010
    Location:
    Midlife, Midwest
    #1
    Next week the US Supreme Court hears oral arguments in a case brought by an employee of a temporary agency at an Amazon Fulfillment center. Apparently after finishing their 12-hour shifts, and punching off the clock, employees were required to wait up to 25 minutes to go through a security screening to check they hadn't stolen anything.

    I find this story outrageous. If your employer forces you to do something that takes a not-inconsiderable amount of time, they ought to pay you for your time. This isn't like washing your hands or putting on safety boots (tasks that can be done in a couple of minutes).

    What is really surprising, to me, is that the Obama administration is siding with the temporary agency in this case, and against the workers.

    I spent most of my business career believing that Unions were an overall negative to business and the economy. That opinion is changing.
     
  2. ElectronGuru macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2013
    Location:
    Oregon, USA
    #2
    It's not that businesses or unions or governments are bad. It's that concentration of power is bad. In any system, you want competition. As in the absence of the others, each will grow to strong and abuse their power.

    We don't need unions to take over, we need them to keep large businesses in check. We don't need businesses to take over, we need them to keep government and unions in check. We don't need government to take over, we need it to keep businesses on check.

    Btw, same is true for political parties. Imagine how bad one (any one) in complete authority for a prolonged period would be.
     
  3. samiwas macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2006
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    #3
    Agreed. This should be a part of the 12-hour shift.

    On my job sites, breaks are either 15 or 30 minutes, and lunches are 45 minutes to an hour, all depending on what job it is. Some people may be working up in the catwalks or high grid of the building. They get an advance call to finish up and come down for the start of break time. So your break time doesn't include walking down or back up the stairs...that's part of work time.

    The same idea should be followed for these security checks.
     
  4. iBlazed macrumors 68000

    iBlazed

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Location:
    New Jersey, United States
    #4
    So Amazon wants a free half hour of labor without paying for it? Doesn't work that way...
     
  5. aaronvan Suspended

    aaronvan

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2011
    Location:
    República Cascadia
    #5
    The case isn't against Amazon, it's against some company called Integrity Staffing. Amazon isn't even a defendant in this case.

    This thread's title is misleading click-bait.
     
  6. vrDrew thread starter macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2010
    Location:
    Midlife, Midwest
    #6
    Do you really believe that Amazon bear no responsibility for what happens in its fulfillment centers?

    Amazon is responsible for this injustice. The fact that they aren't listed as a defendant in the legal case is all but irrelevant. Amazon insist upon the post-shift security screening, yet refuse to pay the contracting company for it.

    Amazon's use a temporary service to provide fulfillment staff is, in and of itself, evidence of the sort of shirking of responsibility big companies use to bolster profits at the cost of the destruction of our society.

    If Apple demanded the Foxconn employees work excess hours without being paid - I think people here would, with very good reason - hold Apple responsible.
     
  7. samiwas macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2006
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    #7
    Now that I've read the article, I have a few more thoughts on the issue.

    Sure. Okay. Activities such as making sure you have your tools with you or having the proper clothes on for a shift I think can be considered "preliminary". Having to wait for 25 minutes in line to find out if you're a thief does no meet that criteria to me.

    Think about a construction site, and the guy who operates the big tower crane. Should he have to arrive at work 30 minutes before everyone else, on his own unpaid time, to get all the way up to the control booth? I think not.

    If waiting in such a line is not part of the "employees’ principal job activities", then the employee should not have to do it if not compensated for it. I do await a certain someone's response to this one.

    I disagree with the "Amazon click bait" statement above. Although Amazon is not named in the suit, is it Amazon's policy that people wait in this line? Do they have other people not from the staffing company who do this? Are they paid for their time?
     
  8. vrDrew thread starter macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2010
    Location:
    Midlife, Midwest
    #8
    I think this is shaping up as a very significant case. For a number of reasons.

    The Amazon subcontractor is being supported by the Obama administration claiming that it

    I think there are some fundamental differences here.

    To begin with, the sort of security done at an airport is for the benefit of the entire airline security system, not the construction company or even the airport itself. Everyone going to the airport has to go through security - not just the affected workers. The only beneficiary of Amazon's security process is Amazon itself, presumably through lowered inventory loss costs.

    Secondly, the temporary company or Amazon control the security process in a way that the airport builder didn't. Amazon/Integrity could reduce the security wait-time to a a couple of minutes by either hiring more security checkers, or by spreading the clock-out process over a longer period of time. (ie. instead of 200 people all trying to leave at once, have them do so over half an hour or so.)

    Lastly, there is a fundamental difference between waiting in line for security (either in your car, or in the airport building) since you are not yet at the worksite. You are free to listen to music, talk on your phone, read a magazine, etc. - in a way that it not possible once you are inside a secure facility.

    Having to go through security in order to get to an airport construction job is, in this regard, no different than having a job on an island that is only accessible via a toll bridge. The toll bridge isn't operated by your employer. Everyone has to go over it. And you can do what you want while you are waiting. It very different from being essentially held captive while waiting for company goons to pat you down and rummage through your bag.

    If the Supreme Court rules the wrong way, I see little to stop more and more companies feeling free to essentially hold employees hostage, for whatever purposes they can come up with (drug tests?) any time they want, without even having the basic decency to pay them for their time.
     
  9. aaronvan Suspended

    aaronvan

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2011
    Location:
    República Cascadia
    #9
    Ultimately, I think they are. However, they are not omniscient. For example, I'm sure Boeing doesn't know every action/policy of their thousands of subcontractors, even those subcontractors working on the Boeing floor.
     
  10. jnpy!$4g3cwk macrumors 65816

    jnpy!$4g3cwk

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2010
    #10
    You make some important points. It wouldn't be an issue in the first place if it took 3 minutes. At some point, the amount of time it takes has to become a factor. My reading of the Administration position is basically that the business groups want a "bright-line test", so that there is a level playing field, and, it is clear whether or not an employer is complying. They feel that they have that now, with the long-standing Portal-to-Portal Act. On the other hand, legally, it does matter if the employees are basically required to wait (IBP v. Alvarez).

    It seems to me that if this can't be settled by the courts, a new law is required to clarify.
     
  11. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #11
    Agreed that the employees shouldn't have to clock out until they have passed through the security checkpoint.

    The administration's reasoning of support seems pretty weak.
    But in the case at hand the security checkpoint is ordered by the employer and it does have a direct benefit to the employer.
     
  12. Menel macrumors 603

    Menel

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2011
    Location:
    ATL
    #12
    The case at many place like this.

    Amazon near us. Full-time employee friend. Their workforce goes up by 1,000's during holidays. Single lane of traffic into fulfillment center. Can take them 30-45minutes sitting in traffic to get to work... that time is on them. Not Amazon.

    Likely the same at any large manufacturing facility/fulfillment center. I bet GM/Toyota/Honda have similar bottlenecks and employees are forced to eat the time.
     
  13. pdjudd macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2007
    Location:
    Plymouth, MN
    #13
    Except Amazon does not have a requirement that they drive or sit in traffic. In fact, I doubt that they care how an employee gets to work, just that they get there. They do require them to go through a security check though.
     
  14. Menel macrumors 603

    Menel

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2011
    Location:
    ATL
    #14
    Wow. Paul Clements. Bush's solicitor general.

    Another example of how Obama and his administration is more Bush-era dirtbag.

    ----------

    To be clear. I'm not making an excuse.

    I've known many with similar complaints for ages. Surprised it has to goto the Supreme Court.
     
  15. LIVEFRMNYC macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2009
    #15
    The Temp Agency is in the wrong.

    If Amazon requires that much extra time for security at the end of the shift, then the Temp Agency should just agree that the time must be paid, either by Amazon or the Agency's own pockets. And of course neither of the two is going to volunteer to pay.

    Amazon is morally wrong for this. They need to allot the last half hour of the worker's shift towards getting through security or hire in house employees instead. But situations like this is one of the reasons why companies use agency workers.
     
  16. Southern Dad macrumors 65816

    Southern Dad

    Joined:
    May 23, 2010
    Location:
    Georgia
    #16
    Simple solution, going forward the staffing company reduces everyone's wage by 25 cents per hour then keeps the employees on the clock through the security process. WIN/WIN
     
  17. zioxide macrumors 603

    zioxide

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2006
    #17
    Better solution. Employer stops being cheap *******s and pay their workers for their work.

    Oh wait, this is America, where we chastise people for taking free **** but get on our knees and blow a corporation when they do the same thing.
     
  18. zin macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    #18
    Why do you hate ordinary working people?
     
  19. vrDrew thread starter macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2010
    Location:
    Midlife, Midwest
    #19
    You might laugh, but I think that would actually be better than what they are currently doing.

    What they are doing now is dishonest (at least in my opinion.) Its saying: We'll pay you $12.35 an hour. Oh, but you only will be paid for 94% of the time you have to be at work.

    With the employees off the clock, the security people - and the employer - has no incentive whatsoever to conduct the security in a reasonably prompt manner. They are free to fritter and waste the temp workers time without any reasonable consequence.

    I'm all in favor of growing, profitable businesses. But Amazon (and they are the real culprits here) and other large companies cannot expect to continue with this chickenxxxx towards the employees who knock themselves out to make their businesses work. American business works best when it works in partnership with its workers.
     
  20. LIVEFRMNYC macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2009
    #20
    I guess taxing everyone more for universal health care would be WIN/WIN too. That is your logic, right? ;)
     
  21. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    #21
    You imply that the time is factored into the salary, yet that argument is unlikely to stand up before a court. It's just bad design on the part of the company. I don't see how you can even defend that. Staffing companies garner frequent complaints regardless of the industry for whatever reason. They always seem to have severe drawbacks for both employers and employees.
     
  22. Southern Dad macrumors 65816

    Southern Dad

    Joined:
    May 23, 2010
    Location:
    Georgia
    #22
    I guess I could ask why the left hates employers? You know job creators.

    Absolutely, as long as EVERYONE pays it. No exempting forty plus percent.

    Oh the temp agency is very likely to be found in the wrong but going forward, they fix it by reducing the hourly wage slightly and keeping them on the clock through security.

    -------------------------

    I'll bet they will get triple wages in settlement but there will also be a stipulation that they no longer work for the temp agency. So they'll have won but lost.
     
  23. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #23
    Cutting pay is going to lead to more disgruntled employees. Disgruntled employees are less productive employees. Less productive employees negatively impact the bottom line. It also means a possible increase in employee turnover which would result in a less experienced workforce which is another hit on productivity and profits.

    Pennywise and pound foolish. A common problem in America today where concern over quarterly numbers seems to take precedent over the long term viability of the company.
     
  24. shinji macrumors 65816

    shinji

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2007
    #24
    They should be compensated for that time. Not their fault it takes 25 minutes, and it's necessary for that particular job.

    A commute is completely different because they're not actually at work.
     
  25. chrono1081 macrumors 604

    chrono1081

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2008
    Location:
    Isla Nublar
    #25
    When you have a staffing agency or contractors and such the company who employs them IS the responsible party, not the person using those services.

    When I worked as a government contractor the military wasn't responsible for how our company ran, they simply paid for the services.

    Where I work now, we hire contractors. We are in no way responsible for the contractors (aside from providing a safe building). We have zero knowledge of how they get paid, we just know that we pay an hourly rate for the contractor.

    Amazon shouldn't be a defendant in this case when its the temp agency that did the wrong thing.
     

Share This Page