E-Commerce Warehouse Wage Slaves Race Against The Clock To Send Your Crap

Consumerist readers, and Americans in general, love having things shipped to us online, but resist paying for the actual shipping. But those aren’t robots pulling your stuff off the shelves shortly after you hit “submit order.” They’re real people, pushed to work at an impossible pace for middling pay, with mandatory overtime. Mother Jones writer Mac Mclelland briefly worked in one such warehouse this past holiday season, pulling books, dildos, and cases of baby food off the shelves. She wrote about the experience. It might make you think twice before placing your next massive online order. Or not.

She found physically punishing work, where “pickers” who pull orders from shelves walk a dozen miles per day and fetch items on the highest and lowest of shelves, bending and stretching until they end up surviving on a steady diet of ibuprofen.

Here’s a scene from training. Workers, there through temp agencies, are expendable and have meager, if any, benefits. They have to apply and go through training again if they dare do anything as obnoxious as miss work to watch their child being born.

The culture is intense, an Amalgamated higher-up acknowledges at the beginning of our training. He’s speaking to us from a video, one of several videos–about company policies, sexual harassment, etc.–that we watch while we try to keep our eyes open. We don’t want to be so intense, the higher-up says. But our customers demand it. We are surrounded by signs that state our productivity goals. Other signs proclaim that a good customer experience, to which our goal-meeting is essential, is the key to growth, and growth is the key to lower prices, which leads to a better customer experience. There is no room for inefficiencies.

One advantage is that this is a blue-collar job that can’t be outsourced, at least until they’re replaced by robots in the next few years.

Update: The Atlantic put together a point-by-point comparison of McLelland’s description of life in the warehouse and accounts of working conditions at Foxconn plants in China.

I Was a Warehouse Wage Slave [Mother Jones] (Thanks, RandomHookup!)

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  1. voogru says:

    Bad jobs at bad wages are better than no jobs at all.

    When more businesses eventually come to town, the marketplace will force wages up. That’s why 97% of the American workforce makes MORE than min. wage.

    Government only mandates that they pay min. wage, so why don’t all corporations pay min. wage and keep all of the profits to themselves and their greedy shareholders?

    Because the market forces them to.

    • Robert Nagel says:

      This is one of the better posts I have seen lately. No tin foil for this guy. While we are on the subject since the oil companies set the price for oil, why don’t they just leave it at $5.00 per gallon instead of letting it float?

      • voogru says:

        Nagel, why not $10 a gallon? There is no government cap on gasoline prices.

        Won’t those evil oil companies make even more money if they just set the price of gasoline to $10 a gallon?

        Here is a fun fact:

        Have you ever noticed when the price of gasoline falls, there is a long lag before the price at the pump goes down?

        Ever wonder why?

        It’s illegal for gas stations to sell gasoline for less than what they paid for it.

        • RandomHookup says:

          So there is a minimum selling price for gasoline set by the government?

          • Applekid ‚îÄ‚îÄ‚î¨ Ôªø„Éé( „Çú-„Çú„Éé) says:

            Actually, that’s accurate. It’s part of that whole business with Standard Oil. They were killing competitors in markets by selling gas for less than it cost to provide. The side effect from avoiding that kind of monopolistic abuse is that prices are slow to dip.

    • Robert Nagel says:

      Before you get to excited about the concept of “mandatory overtime”, think it through. If overtime were voluntary every time a company needed it there would be a new negotiation. The workers would be free to offer to do the work, but only for extra money over and above time and one half. That may sound fair, but presumably the wage rate has already been settled. Depending on the importance of the work to be done the new rate would vary all over the place. This might not seem to be unfair, but what about when you are without power and the linemen decide they want $200.00 per hour to work OT? Or $2000.00 per hour. Sometimes unpleasant things come along with a job.

      • az123 says:

        I don’t think you understand how overtime works, under US law the pay rate for work beyond 40 hours a week for non-exempt employees is required to be 1.5x the standard pay. Sure companies can do more at times.

        Mandatory overtime is the company stating that you will work 80 hours a week or you will be fired, which is where it can turn into a problem, you are basically taking the choice away from people. This has nothing to do with pay rate but in general more to do with the fact that companies are not staffing their workforce correctly to meet the demand. Normally this is to avoid other costs such as benefits.

        • voogru says:

          “Mandatory overtime is the company stating that you will work 80 hours a week or you will be fired, which is where it can turn into a problem, you are basically taking the choice away from people.”

          Really? They actually make it so you can’t quit the job? That’s interesting.

          Can you provide me with some proof that people that take these jobs can’t ever quit?

          Because if they can stop working there, they still have a choice. Personally if I’m in dire straits I’d prefer to have the choice of 80 hour workweeks or no work at all.

          Because if the government comes in and says they can’t do that, their business might not exist at all. That reduces choice because now I don’t have that option to take that 80 hours a week job because the government did it for me.

          I am fully capable of making that decision myself. Please stop making decisions for me. I will be the judge of working conditions I will accept, not you, nor anyone else.

          • Cat says:

            And that’s great, until all other business decide that their employees should work a mandatory 80 hours a week.

            And don’t try to tell me that somehow this won’t happen because of some magic in the “market forces”.

            It can, and it will, happen. What’s your choice then?

            • voogru says:

              ‚ÄúAnd that’s great, until all other business decide that their employees should work a mandatory 80 hours a week.‚Äù

              What’s stopping the employees from quitting and starting their own company with better work rules?

              ‚ÄúIt can, and it will, happen. What’s your choice then?‚Äù

              If you claim businesses will do anything to make more money, one way they can skyrocket their profits is pay everyone only the legal requirement. But for some reason, they all don’t do this.

              So why don’t they? They’d make more profits if they only paid min. wage for everything!

              I’ll answer it for you. If they pay crappy wages, skilled employees will find other businesses willing to pay them more. The business then will lose that worker and have to train replacements which can be expensive, particularly if it’s somewhat of a high skill or high learning curve.

              So, in cases of skilled labor, it’s more economical for a business to pay higher wages than to risk losing the employee the second another business offers them a better deal. If you pay higher wages, other businesses will have to bid the price higher to make it worthwhile for the employee.

              In other words, you do not need the force of the government to do this.

              That is how wages rise. Your continue improving your product (your skill set), and your become economical to hire at higher wages. Trying to mandate higher wages is like trying to make gravity illegal.

              I am sorry Cat, you can’t make $65,000 a year working at Subway.

              Unless they have… FIFTY DOLLAR FOOT LONG!

              One more thing, Cat, Would you pay a 100% premium on everything if all of those workers behind the production were paid 100% more?

              If so, what is the difference if people make twice as much money, but everything costs twice as much?

              What good is that?

              • MonkeyMonk says:

                If so, what is the difference if people make twice as much money, but everything costs twice as much?

                The reason everything is cheap is because it’s mostly made in China … by Chinese.

                • Kuri says:

                  If it was made in the USA there’s no saying cost would increase since it wouldn’t cost as much to ship it.

                  • voogru says:

                    But it’s all still made in China.

                    Because it’s cheaper.

                    American labor is far more productive. You need a lot more Chinese to do the work of one American. It’s the whole you get what you pay for.

                    One big difference is, a Chinese man can’t file a bullcrap lawsuit against you like an American can. One bullcrap lawsuit and the whole business can be destroyed.

              • OutPastPluto says:

                > What’s stopping the employees from quitting and starting their own company with better work rules?

                Lack of access to capital.

                If you don’t get that much, then the rest of what you have to say can’t be very compelling.

          • DemosCat says:

            So Voogru, if I put a gun to your head and demand all your money, you’re cool with that, because you still have the choice of dieing?

            It’s not unusual for factories or warehouses to be virtually the only job-game in a small town. Not much of a choice if you want to eat.

            • voogru says:

              ‚ÄúSo Voogru, if I put a gun to your head and demand all your money, you’re cool with that, because you still have the choice of dieing?‚Äù

              Hey look, it’s another straw man. You are comparing two completely different things.

              I have a right to my life.
              You don’t have a right to a job. Sorry.

              The irony here is, you want the government to use guns to force businesses to act the way you want them to act. Because that’s what those laws are.

              Guns.

              • DemosCat says:

                >> The irony here is, you want the government to use guns to force businesses to act the way you want them to act.

                Deflecting one strawman with another. :)

                Actually, what bugs me is so many comments that seem to go along the line of, “This is the way things are. Deal with it.”

                No thoughts on how to improve the human condition? Just deal with it?

                If all anyone ever did was to just accept things the way they are, there would never be any progress. We would all still be working under Charles Dickens conditions.

                For that matter, we might all still be living in caves.

                • voogru says:

                  Deflecting one strawman with another. :)

                  I disagree.

                  “We want businesses to pay more money, so the government should raise min. wage!”

                  That’s the force of a barrel of a gun, because what happens if they don’t do it?

                  “No thoughts on how to improve the human condition? Just deal with it?”

                  You don’t improve the human condition by mandating other people to do things by force. Sorry.

                  I want to improve the human condition much like anyone else does, but the approach a lot of people seem to support is counter-productive. Higher labor costs results in higher product costs and everyone will be in the same position. If not worse because of depreciated savings.

                  • DemosCat says:

                    You say gun, I say regulation. Regulations are not automatically bad.

                    Anything organized needs processes and procedures to function, be it government, business, or your own body. If cells in your body become “unregulated” (gun withdrawn?) and grow out of control, we call that cancer.

                    For example, after the debacle of the 1929 stock market crash, banks became highly regulated. From the 1940’s through the 1970’s, banking was stable and reliable, providing services to everyone.

                    Then amnesia set in, and enough people forgot why banks were regulated to begin removing those restrictions. The result? The savings and loan scandal of the 1980’s. No lesson to learn there! More regulations were lifted. The result? The mess we are in today.

                    So yes, regulation is vital to a functioning society. What can be argued is the degree of regulation (and indeed we are).

    • Cat says:

      Market forces are truly wonderful. They’ve allowed my company to reduce PTO by 50%, shift more health care costs to employees, reduce or eliminate benefits, and there hasn’t been a raise in 4 years. We’ve also hired only temp workers for the past 2 years. Yes, the market has been very good to my company, we had record profits last year.

      Which would be great, if I owned the company.

      • voogru says:

        Let me see here:

        1. Lay you off completely.
        2. Drop or reduce your health care benefits.

        Pick one.

        I regret to inform you that you cannot be paid more than the services you render to the business is worth.

        • Cat says:

          You forgot:

          3. Put off the new summer villa in Spain, and pay for your hard working employee’s benefits out of your record profits.

          • voogru says:

            That’s a nice strawman.

            Because all business owners must have nice villas in Spain. Maybe the big bankers do, but the majority of business owners, not so much.

            If you don’t like your job or your wages, start your own business. If business owners are so rich and successful, why don’t you become one?

            Oh right, it requires risk.

            • DemosCat says:

              Not that much of a straw man when you have CEOs pulling in $20 million a year.

              Back in the 1960’s, the wage difference between CEO and lowest paid worker was typically a ratio of about 50:1. These days, the ration is about 1000:1 or greater. What exactly is harder about a CEO job today that 50 years ago to justify such a huge difference?

              In Canada today, the wage ratio is still around 100:1, vs the US 1000:1. Is a Canadian CEO job any different than a US CEO? I don’t think so.

              If outsourcing/offshoring is so great, why don’t we offshore the CEO? That would save a company a bundle.

              • voogru says:

                Hey uh, why don’t you remove the results from the financial sector? Because it’s a huge bubble.

                Those stats are skewed because of the bailouts.

                Wow, CEO’s got record pay and bonuses after the government gave them trillions of dollars in bailouts? Wow that’s clearly the fault of the free market!

                • Kate says:

                  Wow CEO’s got record pay and bonuses before the bailout too.

                  A little accuracy goes a long way in seeing reality.

                  • Evil_Otto would rather pay taxes than make someone else rich says:

                    Shh, you’ll burst his little “THE FREE MARKET WILL SOLVE EVERYTHING WHAHGLGHAGHL” bubble he’s floating around in.

                    • voogru says:

                      ‚ÄúWow CEO’s got record pay and bonuses before the bailout too.‚Äù

                      It wasn’t called the housing bubble for nothing. Stop painting all CEO’s as if they are in the financial sector, they’re not.

                      Let’s see, CEO pay for more normal businesses, 1-2 million/yr. Average salary: 45k.

                      20:1 – 45:1

                      And for Otto: THE GOVERNENT WILL SOLVE EVERYTHING GOVERNMENT CAN DECLARE GRAVITY ILLEGAL AND WE WILL ALL BE ABLE TO FLY WHAHGLGHAGHL!

                      Oh yeah, and by the way, taxes get redirected to private corporations to make some people very very rich.

                      You fail.

              • hansolo247 says:

                Yea, it’s due to messed up values.

                Still, if there were legislation to address it, I would oppose it.

                • Applekid ‚îÄ‚îÄ‚î¨ Ôªø„Éé( „Çú-„Çú„Éé) says:

                  I think this article is an interesting look at a humble man who just so happens to run the world’s 10th largest airline. So many corporate executives seem to have a god complex.

            • Cat says:

              I do run a small business, however, it’s hard to make a go of it when both my wife and I have to work full time to make ends meet. And why don’t I just quit and take that risk? Because, while I can handle the risk, my children cannot.

              I do believe you’re on the wrong website, or you have a mistaken perception of what goes on here.

              • voogru says:

                Do you have any employees?

                How would you like to have a gun to your head that mandates you pay wages that would surely doom your small business because you lack the economies of scale to pay those wages?

                To make things worse, potential employees would have been happy to have worked for you at a wage agreed by both you and your employee.

                But the government has made it illegal for you to hire them at that wage.

                Wages are decided by the business and the employee. No third party should be involved in that, no more than I should be involved of whether you married the right woman or not.

                If min. wages are so good, why don’t we have min. gas prices and mandate oil companies to charge $10/gallon or more. Then they can pay all of those low skilled service workers ‘living’ wages!

                • RandomHookup says:

                  There can be a massive imbalance in the power of the employer versus the individual, especially in times of higher unemployment. Letting the market decide below a certain level can be dangerous for all involved. I believe even Adam Smith favored a minimum wage.

                  The reason the government does get involved in labor-management laws is that employers have been known to take massive advantage of people and treat them simply as inputs to the process. Minimum wages laws are part of that, just like the government has put a minimum age on the woman you can marry.

                  • voogru says:

                    “There can be a massive imbalance in the power of the employer versus the individual”

                    That’s only if there are very few employers to work with. The solution to this problem is more employers that are competing against each other.

                    That’s helps drive wages up because people are paid closer to what their value is. When you only have one or two bidders for labor then you do have issues.

                    • RandomHookup says:

                      That’s easy to say, but most of these kind of places (warehouses, call centers) locate in areas with a large supply of labor. There’s nothing the individual can do to change the demand for labor/number of employers in a geography without moving.

                    • voogru says:

                      “There’s nothing the individual can do to change the demand for labor/number of employers in a geography without moving. “

                      He can improve his skill set and move on to higher paying jobs. You don’t make a career at it and you don’t stay making min. wage for 40 years. It doesn’t happen.

                    • Kuri says:

                      So he can improve his skillset, by what, going to a trade school that, if they have a job they likely don’t have time for, and if they have the free time, likely don’t have the money for?

            • who? says:

              I would start my own small business, but my health care is tied to having a job, and I have a minor chronic health condition that makes it impossible for me to get an individual plan. So I work for a large company, where the directors are feeding money into Mitt Romney’s superpac, but I take home less money than I did in 2005.

      • SmokeyBacon says:

        Wait – do you work for the same company I do? Because I swear that is a perfect description for where I work. Well, except that instead of temp workers they often just have an existing employee take over if someone leaves (by their choice or by the companies).

        What especially gets me about companies like this is the record profits – having working conditions made worse when a company is bringing in record profits makes people feel even worse than if they were cutting back due to low profits. At least then it would be justified by something other than greed.

    • richcreamerybutter says:

      I’d be more likely to take a “wait and see” attitude with “the market” if healthcare wasn’t commonly tied to employment.

      • voogru says:

        The reason why healthcare is so expensive is because of the amount of government interference. Health care is one of the most regulated industries there is.

        In normal functioning markets, prices go down constantly as the economy expands and productivity increases.

        The health care sector is not a free market.

        • poco says:

          The reason healthcare is so expensive is the middlemen in the insurance industry are making as much profit as possible off of it.

          A second major cause is that a growing number of people can’t afford healthcare and therefore are forced to overburden hospital emergency rooms and default on the bill.

          Government is only responsible in that it refuses to do anything about the problem, that’s under-regulation, not over.

          • voogru says:

            “The reason healthcare is so expensive is the middlemen in the insurance industry are making as much profit as possible off of it. “

            If that was the case, then just pay for medical services directly. Cut out the middle man.

            Insurance companies make 2-3%. Look up the damn financial records yourself.

            Health insurance is expensive because HEALTH CARE is expensive. Then there is also the issue that insurance is supposed to protect you from things that probably aren’t going to happen. Car insurance would be pretty expensive too if they provided coverage for gasoline, oil changes, wear and tear, tires, engine malfunction, transmission malfunction, and so on.

            Insurance companies don’t provide that because in a car it pretty much has a 100% chance of happening.

            Think about this for a minute, pretend the government mandated car insurance companies to pay for your gasoline, so you got ‘free’ gasoline when you bought insurance. What would happen to your insurance premiums?

            They’d skyrocket.

            And what would people do? Make even more use of their ‘free’ gasoline, increasing demand for gasoline.

            So gasoline prices would skyrocket as well.

            Same thing happens in health care.

            You have a nice day now.

            ‚ÄúA second major cause is that a growing number of people can’t afford healthcare and therefore are forced to overburden hospital emergency rooms and default on the bill.‚Äù

            That accounts for about 7% of the costs. A lot of the costs have to do with the equipment and labor costs.

            Why are simple medical devices so expensive? Baby incubators can be built for under $1000, yet they sell for $20,000+? Do you mean to tell me the reason why these devices are so expensive is because some hospitals don’t pay for them, and the businesses have to charge them more.

            No, that’s absurd.

            If you start a business making high quality American made incubators, the government will never let you market or sell your products. Hospitals that do business with you instead of big business will face massive lawsuits. It’s a rigged game for big business and you fall for the big scam hook line and sinker.

            Big business is in bed with big government and you want to give big government even more power, which big business will benefit greatly from.

            Hey listen, give me $1,000 a month and I’ll give you free gasoline.

            Oh, you can only have 10 gallons a week. Good deal though, right?

            • RandomHookup says:

              So by your example, health care costs in most European countries should be higher than in the US? Figuring out health care is difficult, but I have seen various reports that say that the higher cost in the US is caused by the cost of treating the uninsured (they delay care until they really need it and then it’s more expensive), higher salaries for doctors and nurses and the cost of administering the payment system for care.

              But in relation to your example, it’s not like people who have 100% paid for care spend all their time at the doctors just for the heck of it. Yes, people will be more careful with how they use it if they have some skin in the game, but it’s not a useful service once you are well (beyond massages and such). BTW, insurance covers death, too, and there’s 100% chance of that happening.

              • voogru says:

                Life insurance only covers you for the term. It’s pretty unlikely for someone to die when they are 20, 30, 40, or 50.

                Try getting a term life insurance policy on someone that’s 80 years old.

            • poco says:

              I don’t need to look up the “damn financial records” myself, I spent several years doing medical billing. I know exactly how much doctors get paid by insurance companies, and how many procedures private practitioners take a loss on because if they refuse to lose money on certain items, the major insurers won’t deal with them at all. The medical insurance industry is a parasitic institution, plain and simple. Your claims that it only makes 2-3% profits are laughable to anyone who’s worked in the field. Look up your own damn numbers.

              As for your suggestion that people could save money by paying the costs directly themselves, the costs are being driven up across the board; a high cost doesn’t go down because you pay out of pocket. In fact, people who pay for their own medical care pay more (see above comments about insurers screwing doctors).

              As for your odd tangent about medical hardware, that’s outside my experience and I fail to see how it relates to the uninsured in emergency rooms, which is the point you were apparently trying to dispute.

            • blueman says:

              Your “free gasoline” analogy is quite possibly the silliest I’ve ever heard, and pretty much obviates the rest of your post.

  2. comedian says:

    A computer-micromanaged future, brought to you by the folks at Kronos.

  3. humphrmi says:

    Oh the horror. You know how anything gets moved from one place to another? Usually, people do it. I used to work as a baggage handler at Sea Tac, cripes I walked far more than a dozen miles a day, and usually carrying 100+ LB bags. Why? So people could take stuff with them when they fly.

    • bee8boo8bop8 says:

      My dad is a preloader for UPS. I once loaned him my pedometer for kicks and he clocked over 30,000 steps that day, IIRC.

  4. MonkeyMonk says:

    I’m not going to deny this is tough work but I worked on a farm one summer and this doesn’t sound any worse than that. I actually really enjoyed the experience and still have many of the friends I met that year. I lost 15 pounds, was in the best shape I’ve ever been, and got a great tan.

    For some reason being in a warehouse (rather than outside) seems to get people’s sympathies up but there are a lot of tough jobs out there.

    • Hi_Hello says:

      I think the factory is easier than the farms. It probably does sound depressing because you have no sunlight and no fresh air.

      I did both… I rather do the factory job than the farm job because I got way too dark. If I have to do it again, I would farm work though. This time, I will outdoor clothes to protect me from the sun and my skin can still breath. Plus I didn’t learn about sunscreen until my college year.

    • bee8boo8bop8 says:

      My 64 year old father is a preloader for UPS, (take the box off the conveyor belt which runs I Love Lucy in the chocolate factory style, read the barcode, put the box in the correct sport, per the barcode, in one of the 3 trucks he loads) and he absolutely loves it. He says he hasn’t been in such good shape since he was in the army 40 years ago.

    • Verdant Pine Trees says:

      RTFA. People are constantly threatened with firing at this job, and clocked very, very carefully. They are told to arrive at 5 AM in order to be organized, but not paid until 6 AM.
      If you are exactly one second late coming back from your half hour lunch (which must include time to go to the bathroom), you can be counseled or fired. One man is fired because his wife had a baby and he missed a day of training to attend the birth; he was rehired, but forced to do the unpaid training all over again.

      She also describes another warehouse in which a person was fired for asking another person, “Hi, where are you from?” – i.e. no talking.

  5. 10,000 Hours says:

    This just in: manual labor sucks, has always sucked, and will continue to suck. And leave it to Mother Joes to decry a company wanting to get more productive and efficient and cut down on waste. Oh why oh why can’t these poor workers just punch in and receive a paycheck and not have to worry about making the company they work for better??!???

  6. Tacojelly says:

    First of all, nobody that doesn’t earn a salary should be forced into mandatory overtime.

    Second this seems like a job that would be perfect for younger people, it’s a shame that corporations like Amazon can’t reach into their profits to be more reasonable with the wages.

    Maybe they should all strike? Seems like something that’d have to get solved asap.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      What’s the alternative to mandatory overtime?

      Offer voluntary overtime and then punish those who opt out of it?

      • zerogspacecow says:

        Hire more people?

      • Laura Northrup says:

        When I worked in a call center, the solution was to keep our wages low enough that whenever overtime was available, we would practically claw each other in the face to get it.

    • MonkeyMonk says:

      My assumption was that although overtime was mandatory they were still being paid hourly for their time. Wouldn’t it be illegal to do otherwise?

    • humphrmi says:

      The author of the article only makes passing mention of “low paying” in the article sub heading but never really backs it up. Perhaps the author wanted to make more money, but was it still a living salary? We don’t know.

      Oh yeah and Laura’s comment about “middling pay” doesn’t count, editorializing =/= fact. And I don’t see any facts about pay in the article.

      For all we know, it’s a hard job that pays a living salary.

      • Laura Northrup says:

        She mentions taking home $60 a day after taxes. Keep in mind this is through a temp agency.

        Jobs requiring no skills other than not having murdered anyone generally do not pay a living wage.

        • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

          Murder is sometimes OK, depending on the circumstances, but no shoplifters, please.

      • bee8boo8bop8 says:

        “Still, she advises, regardless of how much they push me, don’t work so hard that I injure myself. I’m young. I have a long life ahead of me. It’s not worth it to do permanent physical damage, she says, which, considering that I got hired at elevensomething dollars an hour, is a bit of an understatement.”

        I took that to mean she’s making $11.xx/hr? At least where I live, that’s decent money for entry level, particularly for a job that, at least according to this article, basically just requires you to be hardworking, literate, and not a criminal.

    • Tacojelly says:

      I once worked for a company that had “mandatory” overtime (i use quotes because, atleast in my state, anything you do after your scheduled shift is 100% your option).

      @MonkeyMonk: Yes they do still pay you time and half for every hour after 40; however, it has been my experience that they’ll hire more “part-time” workers so that you’ll rarely break that magic number.

      @Nigerien Prince: Again, my experience has shown me that jobs like this will do sneaking, unfair, and often illegal practices to cut from the wages first. If you work 4 more hours than you were scheduled to, how many people would notice if only 3 showed up on a paycheck? How many would actually complain? How long would that take to get rectified? And if you give a person a 6 hour task and they do it in an allotted time of 4 then great, and if they have to stay 2 of their own hours extra, no big deal to the corporation… and yeah, they try to punish those who opt out and try to turn your co-workers against you.

      As I told my former employer then, If you need me longer then schedule me longer. I have no patience for that nonsense.

    • Jawaka says:

      I suppose another solution would be to replace all the pickers with some sort of robotic alternative. Would that make all these workers happy?

    • smo0 says:

      I work mandatory OT.
      I work for a company that contracts out to apple. I make 9 dollars an hour – and Christmas week we were forced to work 3 12’s and 2 10s… MINIMUM.

  7. vliam says:

    Perhaps we were a bit premature in the abolition of slavery. Re-instituting it could really help boost the economy. The trickle-down effect could really improve the lives of everyone in our fine society.

    • Agent Hooter Enjoys Enhanced Patdowns says:

      You joke but a large proportion of American made goods are made by prisoners who are forced to work. We incarcerate more of our own people than almost any other nation, and use that as slave labor. And we never try to rehabilitate criminals so we keep a high population of them. So, we really rather do.

      • 10,000 Hours says:

        Slaves: Once-free people kidnapped against their will and forced to do labor through the threat of violence or death.

        Prisoners: People who committed a crime and were convicted in a court of law, housed in state or federal run facilities in which the prisoners are expected to work to pay for part of their incarceration.

        • zerogspacecow says:

          This. As far as I know, revenue generation doesn’t cover their incarceration, so it’s just an attempt to make back SOME of the money spent on them.

          Although, I’d love to give private companies the chance to run prisons, see how efficient they can make it.

        • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

          Yes, but their work makes the number of jobs available to non-criminals lower. Companies do not have to pay minimum wage for prisoners either. That means less money going in to the consumer economy, which is bad. If taxpaying citizens had those jobs, the state would still make some of that money back through taxes paid by the worker, then the worker could spend the money at businesses, which would make higher profits. Then, they could possibly hire more employees, who would put more money into the economy, and so on.

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        How do you define “large proportion”?

      • George4478 says:

        An armed robber making furniture in a prison workshop is actually a “slave”?

      • RedOryx says:

        At least in the state of Ohio, those prisoners are paid. It’s not a lot, it’s only about $20/month but to call it “slave” labor is incorrect.

  8. Hi_Hello says:

    I got tired of reading it. I lived it. It’s not as bad as she make it sounds. It’s not great either.

    Even though it’s can’t be outsources, the jobs can go to immigrants. (I”m not talking about illegals, even though that might be in it).

    When I was working in a clothes shipping place, it was all immigrants on the floor. It’s a lot easier to use immigrants. You get one person to bring a van full of them. The person is the middle man.

    I sucked at it… maybe it had to do with my semi-dyslectic… or the way my brain is wired… the clothes are label by item numbers.. and you need different items in a bin… after a week they realized I was just putting stuff in the didn’t make sense… (accident)…

    so I went back to folding clothes. Later got ‘promoted’ to folding boxes and moved to another room where I can sit down and tag clothes. I was super fast at tagging clothes. I can sit down!! there were two older white ladies who were tagging clothes also.

    Two 15min breaks was all we got.

  9. zerogspacecow says:

    Am I the only one tired of reading this stuff? It’s an effing job, not a vacation. Furthermore, it’s a blue collar job. They’re hired for labor, that it. Labor alone does not demand a good pay rate, you need education and skills for a higher pay rate.

    There have been an explosion of similar articles lately, all with the vague implication that we should feel bad about ordering stuff, because that basically just makes us slave drivers. Would it be better if we didn’t buy anything at all? Then these people wouldn’t have work at all.

    And, similar to articles about tips, not at all jobs are created equal. Not all jobs deserve “good” pay. If you work stocking shelves, or in a warehouse, or making coffee ,or a whole bevy of other low-skill labor jobs, you do not deserve to make the same as someone who got an education, and gained useful skills that demand a higher pay rate.

    I work as a designer/drafter. Do I deserve to make as much as an engineer? No! I didn’t get enough education for that. I also don’t have the knowledge that an engineer job. So should I be complaining that I’m a “wage slave”? No, I made my choices, and I’m happy I have a job.

    • tungstencoil says:

      This – good comment.

      I used to work low-paying, difficult jobs. One day I decided I’d had enough. I rearranged my life, put myself through school, and got a useful degree. Today, I use my brain and make over 10x what I used to, plus I have benefits, an office, and a (shared) assistant.

      In spite of all that, my job is still hard. I still have to add more value to my company than they pay me, otherwise risk being redundant. Why is that so hard to see?

      If we didn’t buy things online for these people to pack and ship, presumably we’d be buying them at stores, and they be using fewer warehouse people to pack larger quantities into a smaller number of shipments to the retail store.

      Spare me.

      • El_Fez says:

        There’s hard work and then there’s unreasonable expectations – and (providing that the above was true) that is not reasonable by any stretch.

        • StarKillerX says:

          The problem becomes who defines what is “unreasonable?”

          Most companies feel that it’s reasonable to expect their employees to show up up on time each day they are scheduled to work. Workers on the otherhand often claim that expecting this is unreasonable as they have lives and shit happens so they want to be able to be late and call off.

          Okay so most companies put attendance policies in place to try and be reasonable, and no matter how liberal the policy is the company will constantly hear how unreasonable it is.

          The company I work for used to have the most liberal attentance policy I had ever seen. Not only did your attendance reset on January 1st but you got 4 excuses absences but you were not fired until you hit 8 points (0.5 points for being late, 1 pt for calling off, 3 pts for no call no show) in a calander year. But as you also lost a point for every calander month of perfect attendance so if you did that during only 6 months a year you could call off up to 16 times before being fired. Guess what, we lost more people for attendance then any place I’ve ever worked.

          • StarKillerX says:

            Sorry, I things got busy here and I didn’t finish was I was saying.

            My point was that although the policy was more liberal then any one I’ve ever seen the employees felt it was unreasonable because “shit happens.”

            I lost count of how many times I had the “the last point is always unavoidable, because you’ll know you get fired. But then again if you hadn’t tried to play the sick call system and use to to get off for parties, concerts, lazy days, etc… then you would never have been in this position to begin with.”

            During the time we had that policy I was running a crew of 20 people and over the 5 years we had that policy I had to let at least 50 people go due to attentance and not a single one burned up the points due to actual health or family issues.

      • kooly says:

        Well how do you think the stuff gets on the store shelves. Some pathetic shlump had to muscle it off a truck, unpack it and cart it down to the shelf. And you can bet the worker had to make sure the thing was properly arranged on the shelf and in the right location, else risk termination.

        I know this because my son worked at Walmart stocking shelves. Did he hate it? Yes. Were the benefits and pay generous? No. But guess what, he finished college and has a job in his preferred profession. Life is like that in a free society.

    • Sneeje says:

      THANK you. Have we really reached a point where a hard-days work is something we feel sorry for instead of celebrate?

      How is this different than construction workers, farmers, coal miners, etc?

      • ezraindustries says:

        Nobody should have to come to work to a job where they are both pushed physically and treated like shit emotionally, and have the constant fear of termination if they don’t meet impossible goals.

        • Sneeje says:

          You are generalizing and don’t know whether that is the case here or just this individual’s perception. The point is that the article here on Consumerist is written in a way that makes it seem like a job that expects you to work hard is a pox on society and exists to keep good people down. In particular it is written as though we should all condemn warehouse jobs. Guess what? They’re not the only jobs where people are expected to work hard for mediocre pay. Not even close.

          Yes, there is opportunity for abuse, there is in all labor including white-collar. So what’s your point?

          • RandomHookup says:

            There’s nothing wrong with hard work, but there is a need for people to be treated fairly and humanely. This author was on the radio and someone called in to tell about a warehouse where the fire alarm went off and there were concerns about theft. They left the employees outside in the cold and wouldn’t let them go warm up in their autos, even though it was freezing and the workers were mostly in shorts because of the heat.

            The employees are treated as disposable. No one deserves to be thought of as a widget.

            • Sneeje says:

              Of course, and there is no disagreement with that. Again, my issue is with the bent of the article as though somehow *warehouse* jobs are different than other high-labor jobs. Abuse should be curtailed, expectations for hard-work should not.

              • RandomHookup says:

                These places seem to specialize in cutting corners on people and facilities. The author talked about one piece of equipment that had sent several workers to the hospital in a week, but no one was fixing it. They also had an ambulance on site for heat related injuries.

                • Sneeje says:

                  But that is generalizing based on one person’s experience. That is generally called “hasty generalization”, meaning drawing conclusions based on a very limited set of data. There are hundreds of these warehouses and thousands of warehousing jobs in the US.

                  If we have proof that abuse is widespread, I agree, let’s do something about it. But there are people that have commented here that have worked in these environments and don’t seem to share the author’s perceptions.

        • brinks says:

          I was not aware such a job existed at this pay rate. Whether the pressure is blatant or subtle, it’s always there. Lower-skilled employees are easily replaceable and are always treated as such.

    • StarKillerX says:

      Excellent point. I’ve worked jobs that would make that warehouse work look like a day at Club Med, but I guess that’s why it’s called a job and not happy fun time.

      People become more and more spoiled and have started to believe that companies exist to provide them a paycheck, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Here’s a wakeup call, companies exist to make money for their owners/stockholders. To do this they need to provide goods or services and to do that they need employees to make the goods and/or employees to provide the service.

      I work in a small plant, and while most of the work is easy it is continous, such that the worker will not be able to wander around chatting with everyone else while they are supposed to be working. To many this is deal breaker as they don’t want to actually have to work, they think that work is some sort of paid social event.

      As for temps, while you can find some very good workers among the pool of temp workers you’ll have to sort threw a bunch of worthless and lazy people to find them. A sad but true fact is that many temps are stuck working as temps for a reason….. no one would ever be stupid enough to hire them full time.

    • kataisa says:

      Great post.

  10. SavijMuhdrox says:

    sounds like a good advertisement for something like “Going to College”.

    and even then, being PAID to walk around and move boxes indoors is not on my list of Jobs Deserving Sympathy.

    what entitlement generation bull$#!+.

  11. mszabo says:

    Wait I thought this was the blog where we liked to make fun of those packers for using a box that was too big for the order. Now we are supposed to have sympathy for them? Kind of hypocritical don’t you say? Bring on the next idiot box packing mishap story that gets management to crack down on these peons.

  12. TheMansfieldMauler says:

    Whiny freaking b. Boo freaking hoo. Physical work can actually be good for you, you know. Doctors tell you to do things like…walk, stretch, etc.

    I worked a factory job right out of college and loved it. I stood at the end of a production line and stacked 40 lb. boxes of product on pallets. All day. I didn’t whine at the hard work, I loved the fact that I was getting paid to work out. If it paid what I’m making now, I’d still be doing it.

  13. Ilovegnomes says:

    15 years ago, I worked in a warehouse that was not e-commerce but I was in a similar environment. Yes, it is a physically demanding, low paying job. But that’s the nature of that kind of work. It motivated me to keep expanding my skill set to get out of there, and I did.

    And yes, you have to be accurate and timely if you work in a warehouse. In e-commerce you get angry customers and maybe it is only over a box of diapers or a toy… but in manufacturing, not being timely or accurate means costing the company a lot of money in lost productivity on the assembly line and lost product revenue if you don’t make your build date. So the consequences are even higher and so is the pressure.

  14. Extended-Warranty says:

    Just reading this article from my corporate desk made me tired.

  15. framitz says:

    I worked for minimum wage as a teen, I chopped weeds out in the sun for over 8 hours a day, sweating and sunburned all summer long. It was like slave labor, but that’s what it took to make some MONEY. Another summer I ran a 90 pound jack hammer 8 hours a day in a hot parking lot, I weighed about 140 pounds, the work was absolutely punishing, but I did it.

    I worked at a major manufacturer, the warehouse workers were all contract employees, they worked hard, but were well treated because our goods were sensitive. Yes the turn over was high, but I never heard any complaints about the work. These folks had it fairly easy, my son even did it for a while one summer and actually enjoyed the work.

    Lot of jobs in America take hard work. I have respect for everyone that makes an honest living by working.

    I paid my dues, and work in an office now, but those early working years helped set me up to be where I am now, and I like it here.

    • Cor Aquilonis says:

      Amen to respect for blue collar work! I worked a summer at a metal shop that had a powdercoat paint line. Standing next to a ginormous oven in 100+ degree heat and high humidity = no fun, but I got paid. I’m so happy I work in an office now.

  16. dolemite says:

    Absolutely no different from where I work. The “floor” people are paid minimum wage (or slightly above if they’ve been here like 10 years)…fast paced work, with few breaks. Every person has their work tracked by barcode, and if they fall behind a certain %, they are admonished once or twice then finally fired. Temps are regularly brought in to prevent overtime pay. Oh, and health insurance costs more than they make in a month.

  17. Nighthawke says:

    There are ways of improving efficiency, order turnaround, and employee overhead. Safeway’s newest warehouse has motorized transports for the pickers and a computerized pick/put system that is voice activated. Each employee is rides on the unit to each aisle in the unit where the system instructs them to pull certain numbers of items from a given slot. As each item is picked the employee confirms it by verbal count. Neat, huh? It keeps inventory tight and losses to a minimal from pilfering and misspicks. It’s expensive as hell, but it’s a one-time cost to the company, plus it pays off over a short period of time.

  18. chrisAPu says:

    You mean to tell me that people who work crappy jobs get crappy pay? Here I thought all order pickers, burger flippers, and janitors earned $50k a year minimum? Maybe if folks don’t like their wage they should take the initiative to go out and find a new one.

    I worked in a warehouse where order pickers that operated machines started off at $13.50 an hour and got 3% raises each year… Aside from the decent health and dental packages, this company also offered a very nice company matched 401k. They still moaned and groaned every year at “only” a 3% raise despite some of them earning nearly $20 an hour to mindlessly pick 160 parts per day.

  19. c_c says:

    I worked one summer in a distribution warehouse for hardware stores … 10-14 hr days, very sore at the end of the day, and every time I blew my nose black sooty stuff would come out because it was so dusty. Fun stuff. I can definitely feel for folks doing it as their career.

  20. rockelscorcho says:

    This is exactly what we do for kids. We have kids working for crappy pay (which is kinda understandable) sacking groceries, making burgers, washing cars…it’s all the same. However, if you didn’t want to do the same thing as an adult, you need some skills. That’s the basis of our world. Unskilled and uneducated people get crappy jobs like this.

    It sucks, yes, but there are many other jobs that suck the same.

    • who? says:

      The problem is that kids don’t do those crappy jobs anymore. Those jobs are all done by adults, because all the low skilled jobs that used to pay better have all gone overseas. It’s one thing for a 16 year old to take a crappy job with no benefits so that he can buy a car. It’s quite another when an adult is trying to support their family on a crappy job with no benefits.

  21. DemosCat says:

    >> Consumerist readers, and Americans in general, love having things shipped to us online[...]

    Except for software or e-books, I don’t want things shipped on-line; I want things shipped to my house.

    I do, however, enjoy *ordering* things on-line.

  22. ARP says:

    Not everyone can be an executive making lots of money. There will always be menial jobs that don’t pay that much. HOWEVER, they should earn a living wage and get some minimum benefits.

    Bump minimum wage up to around $9-$10 an hour, provide Single Payer/UHC, reform tax code (i.e. revert to Reagan era rates, reduce number of deductions, make capital gains regular income after some amount, etc.) and allow market forces to do the rest.

    • voogru says:

      LOL. Living wage.

      Newsflash: Labor is a cost in production, the end products have to pay these wages.

      So guess what? If labor costs more money, the end products and services cost more too.

      In effect, it’s a zero sum game.

      But you do reduce the purchasing power of their savings. Good job.

      • ARP says:

        Cite that says it’s a dollar for dollar increase?

        Also, yes, there will be some inflationary impact, but I don’t think its a dollar for dollar increase. But taking care of health care costs frees up additional money.

    • zerogspacecow says:

      No. Not every job is worth a “living wage.” Minimum wage != living wage. And it shouldn’t. There are plenty of jobs out there that are not worth a living wage at 40 hours a week.

      The wage a person gets paid should be fair for what the job is. A fair wage for collecting shopping carts is not the same as a fair wage for working the drive thru at Taco Bell. A fair wage for bagging groceries is not the same as a fair wage for being a butcher.

      Here’s an example: a dog kennel needs puppy petter. Someone to pet puppies. That’s it. Just pet puppies to make them feel happy. They need this person to pet puppies 40 hours a week. Does the person they hire deserve to make a “living wage”?

      I’m not even going to touch what “living wage” actually equals, but we’ll just pretend it’s $12 an hour. Does the puppy petter deserve to make $12 an hour?

  23. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    This is why I’m conflicted about Amazon. They’re always speedy and customer service is great, but I know for a fact they treat their employees, from the warehouse folks to the programmers, like dirt.

    • voogru says:

      So yeah, let’s make it illegal so that all of those people being treated like dirt lose their job.

      Then we can brag about how we’re helping them!

      • Applekid ‚îÄ‚îÄ‚î¨ Ôªø„Éé( „Çú-„Çú„Éé) says:

        I didn’t say it should be illegal. What I am saying is that I’d feel better about buying from Amazon if they treated their employees better.

        a relevant video

      • vliam says:

        If your business can’t produce a profit while offering the employees at least a modicum of respect, you probably shouldn’t be in business.

        Fortunately for consumers. online purchasing shields them from the reality of the situation and allows them a manner of plausible deniability when the truth is presented.

    • zerogspacecow says:

      Okay, let’s say you’re buying shoes. You could buy it from Amazon (who treat their employees like dirt), or you can buy from Zappos (a company known for treating their employees really well).

      A pair of Addidas Sambas in black, size 10 is:

      $60 at Zappos:
      http://www.zappos.com/adidas-originals-samba-leather-black-white

      $42 at Amazon:
      http://www.amazon.com/adidas-Samba-Classic-Soccer-Running/dp/B0007PN9ZG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1330622165&sr=8-1

      Are you going to pay the extra $18 at Zappos? If not, then you can’t complain about the conditions for employees.

      • atrixe says:

        I don’t know if you just randomly chose to use Zappos in your analogy or not, but they are now owned by Amazon.

        • cowboyesfan says:

          LOL! Amazon did by Zappos a couple of years ago ( along with Woot! my other favorite site).

        • zerogspacecow says:

          Oh, so they are! Interesting twist!

          In that case, Amazon treats some of their employees well, but not others!

      • Applekid ‚îÄ‚îÄ‚î¨ Ôªø„Éé( „Çú-„Çú„Éé) says:

        Can’t I just choose not to get the sneakers?

        You selected a relatively low priced item to arrive at an almost 50% increase in price. In that case, yeah, I probably would buy from Amazon, but the decision would be easier if I didn’t have to consider employee care.

        Take something more substantial. Here is a Fluke 87V multimeter at Amazon and Slygeek. $333 vs $356.
        If I had heard they had a reputation for treating their employees well, a $17 difference (5% of the higher price) isn’t that big a deal.

        On another interesting aside, check this out: “Amazon has ingeniously found a way to get individual retailers like me to take the risk in finding valuable products, build the niche, direct loyal customers to Amazon (and pay them in the process), get all of the small online companies to compete with each other then squeeze small retailers (like me) out of the market by offering FBA products with faster shipping and lower prices.”

        • RandomHookup says:

          Economists say that a logical consumer shouldn’t look at the % savings, but the absolute. I believe the story on Consumerist a while back was that if you are willing to drive 1/2 hour to save $25 on a $100 item, you should be willing to drive 1/2 to save $25 on a car.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      I know several people who work at an Amazon call center and they’re all very happy with their jobs.

      • Buckus says:

        Do you know anyone who works in an Amazon warehouse? Big difference. Call center != warehouse.

    • Dallas_shopper says:

      If you’re conflicted about this, you don’t even want to know how employees are treated in slaughtering and meatpacking.

  24. AgostoBehemoth says:

    I’ve worked both as a farm hand and for UPS loading tractor-trailers. Both were hard work, at the UPS job we were required to load x-hundred parcels per hour – there were no regular hours in either job – on the farm you worked until you couldn’t see anymore and at UPS you worked until the belts stopped.

    Neither was well paying – but both were enjoyable.

  25. shufflemoomin says:

    A familiar tale. I took a job like this right after school while waiting to get into college and right after college while looking for work in my field. All kids should be made to work somewhere like this for a week and a guarantee the education level of the country will sky-rocket. It’s sad that jobs like this exist and it’s even sadder than some people are so poorly qualified that it’s all they can get. It’s harsh, but that’s why you should get a decent education. Even for the people doing those jobs, there’s nothing stopping them learning a new profession. There’s also nothing forcing them to work there at all. If you’re not qualified for anything, you work hard at crappy jobs for next to no pay. It’s how the World works.

  26. Straspey says:

    My wife works at a desk in a standard, professional office job – part of which includes the normal amount of inter-office “traveling”, such as – trips to and from the copier, business which requires walking to co-worker’s desks or offices, visits to the restroom, vending machine, lunch, etc.

    She recently bought herself one of these:

    http://www.fitbit.com/

    “Fitbit makes every step you take a step toward better fitness, even on your busiest days. Fitbit Ultra’s super sensitive 3-D motion sensor tracks your day down to details a pedometer can’t catch, showing your exact steps taken, calories burned, and distance traveled.

    The new altimeter tracks floors climbed (new) so you can monitor this heart-healthy activity, encouraging you to take the stairs at home or work, or climb a little further on your next hike.”

    It’s about the size of a USB and clips weightlessly to your belt or pocket.

    My wife has discovered that during the normal course of a very normal day at her job, she can easilt take between 10,000 – 12,000 steps and climb the equivalent of four flights of stairs.

    The device also tracks your sleep patterns and is a wonderful tool to learn about one’s daily physical process.

  27. El_Fez says:

    Heh, ironically the Mother Jones site had ads for Zappos all over the place. (Although I’d like to think that Zappos is better than the sweatshops described therein).

    I did a stint at Amazon back in – oh, probably 1998-ish, back just before they got REALLY huge. It was pretty hard core, but not quite the Auschwitz-like work camp atmosphere that they described. Still I did get fired after a month of putting things into boxes for not being fast enough.

    So yeah, I could totally see corporate greed spinning off into such a hell-hole.

    • Laura Northrup says:

      Must be cookies again. Thanks to a link I clicked earlier, my ads were from Petco and had tiny dogs wearing dresses.

  28. sirwired says:

    If you are uneducated, or live in an area where the skills you do have are not needed, your labor is a fungible commodity, the price of which is dynamically set by the current labor market.

    Either get skills that matter, move, or accept that your unskilled hard labor isn’t worth as much as you think it is.

  29. eeelaine says:

    Wow….I can’t believe how many people were willing to bash the author of this article http://www.forbes.com/sites/quickerbettertech/2011/12/12/if-i-was-a-poor-black-kid/ , but will come on here and preach with a “its a job, get over it” attitude.

    Apparently, if you have a job, you aren’t allowed to complain, even if the working conditions are crappy/overworked/illegal/demoralizing/underpaid.

  30. Bladerunner says:

    Eleven-something an hour is what the starting EMTs at the place I work for make, and that both requires schooling and has life-and-death responsibility. But probably the same number of dildos.

    Considering she’s a temp worker during a recession, I think she should probably be more grateful; “This is America?” Yes. Yes it is. Where you can get paid more than minimum wage for manual labor.

  31. Torchwood says:

    Lets look at these jobs for what they are: Low-skill, easily trained, easily replaced workers. Don’t like it? Tough!

    What makes it unpleasurable is that you have highly-skilled, highly-educated people are having to work these jobs because employers are not hiring at the moment, and yet these people have to put food on the table.

  32. kataisa says:

    I don’t understand. Why are spoiled, lazy Americans doing hard, dirty, low-pay work that supposedly only illegals want to do?

  33. Verdant Pine Trees says:

    Enough with the chest-flaunting about how tough you are and you worked a really difficult job like this. The issue is not hard work, the issue is when employees are treated as if they are disposable, and not given basic things like bathroom breaks and simple safety additions like anti-static floor covering. They’re only hurting themselves in the long run.

    I’ve worked for a company that fired someone when she took leave for her father’s death, and another that fired someone when his wife gave birth (which is what this company did). None of us, by the way, were in the military or operating a nuclear missile silo.

    Birth and death are far, far more important than some piss-ass company’s goals, considering our lifespan and that of any given company. Most companies fail. Most industries thrive, then change or die, or change – and then die. Of course, I’m sure you he-mans beefing about “American entitlement” were happy to work the day your child was born, or the day your mother died.

    Lofty words about hard work ignore the immoral and yes, inefficient, character, of many companies today. I know most of you didn’t read the actual Fing article, but she describes having to scan every item in a box in order to prove that the one she was looking for is out of stock. And this by you is more efficient?

    They would frankly be better off with a bigger part-time worker force a la Starbucks, provided with a HMO health care plan focused on preventative care – with less injuries, less illness, and more energy to get things done in a timely fashion.

    • Nobody can say "Teehee" with a straight face says:

      The short lifespan of companies actually makes the short duration of days off even more important, not less. Also on a non-individual basis, birth and death of single humans is pretty much insignificant to the world at large.

      We’re all single people on a rock of billions. It’s inexcusable for work conditions like this to exist in America… But it’s fine if it’s somewhere else since those people are different, right?

  34. kimmie says:

    I’m not sure I understand how they can pay less than minimum wage?

  35. Froggmann says:

    I worked one of these jobs before. Yea the hours sucked but the pay was good at the time, the overtime pay was awesome and the walking (Later jogging) put me in great shape. It’s not some place I would make a career at but it was great for my 18 year old self.

  36. Mr. Bill says:

    Organize, Join a Union!

  37. Press1forDialTone says:

    Watch out people, these pick and pack jobs WILL be outsourced if you so much as sniff.
    The product warehouses will be relocated to China, and Chinese laborers (who like working
    like robots or at least the ones who don’t commit suicide) will replace you whiners. If you’re
    not unionized don’t complain, get organized. Then the products will be shipped back to
    the individual consumers in the US. Good luck with the Chinese getting those addresses
    right.

  38. BigFoot says:

    “walk a dozen miles per day and fetch items on the highest and lowest of shelves, bending and stretching until they end up surviving on a steady diet of ibuprofen”

    Sounds just like all the zombies at the gym, except she got paid. Bonus!

  39. PupJet says:

    Am I the ONLY one that is going to note the aspect

    “Mother Jones writer Mac Mclelland briefly worked in one such warehouse this past holiday season, pulling books, –dildos–, and cases of baby food off the shelves.”

    I always thought my ‘products’ were being pre-handled. Maybe they could call me next time and make recommendations. :-|