Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Ruthless Quotas at Amazon Are Maiming Employees (theatlantic.com)
62 points by siberianbear 4 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 19 comments

The article mistates a cause and effect. The injuries are not caused by Amazon's need to move packages they're caused by Amazon's unreasonable and apparently unsafe systemic requierements on employees. Amazon could move the packages it needs with more employees more safely but have chosen not to.

If anything the problem, going by the story, has to do with Amazon's hiring practices. Anyone with a brain could guess that a 54 year old female new hire is at greater liability of injury when performing this sort of work. But I imagine she wouldn't have applied if she didn't need the money so is it better to 'protect' every worker because some chose to take a risk?

It's not warehouse work like traditional warehouse work. It's mostly sorting and putting items on shelves and in boxes. Lots of people that ave work in stores doing that all the time.

It's unreasonable workload/productivity requirements that are the problem.

If anything?? There seem to be a few problems that are unrelated to hiring practices. These warehouses are deathtraps regardless of your age or other attributes.

Weird how that wasn't in the story at all but you managed to insert it anyway.

This whole thing seems so absurd to me.

The article quotes a rate of 300 items per hour.

If it were 100 items per hour, you'd still be talking about ten cents per item of labour cost.

No-one would care if their items cost that much more.

The items already cost what the customer will pay. Jeff Bezos cares if he makes that much less profit. Also, there is more fixed cost than the labor (facility, lights, certain robots, etc).

I speak for myself and not my employer, past or present.

More and more facilities are becoming robot centric. The only reason humans exist in the robot facilities is because they do something robots don't do well yet. Usually grabbing objects of varying shapes, sizes, and weights.

It's unsurprising that these facilities are moving at such a pace that they're becoming increasingly dangerous and inhumane.

I have, in the past or present, watched with immense data fidelity as humans at these facilities became the weakest link and that weakness only grew as robot evolution further outpaced them.

I'm convinced that the only humane future for these facilities is one entirely devoid of humans. I doubt you'll ever convince management to slow the robots way down and keep them like that.

There are robots available today that are a lot less dangerous than the Kiva/Amazon deathfloors. But I don't see that remaining true as KPIs endlessly march upwards.

I think you're right that in this mix the robots will win.

Amazon is working to automate their logistics as much as possible --but I think they should do it in a way more human way. They should design their process with people in mind and keep people's well being and limits in mind when designing as well as when managing people.

Unionization is not an answer, well it might be but only temporarily as most people in fulfilment will be out of the picture. Given that, I would hope Amazon does the right thing, but I kind of doubt it.

Unionization is only one component. The other is taxing automation.

How do you tax automation? Do you reschedule depreciation or something?

The reality is our pop growth is slowing so that these low skills jobs are being eliminated might not be detrimental to our future workforce. The problem is we have sent medium/semi skilled jobs overseas and didn't prepare our workforce for it nor did we "tax" the job shipping to compensate the injured (affected) workforce. We're slapping some tariffs 30 years too late, but I guess it's better then nothing.

Changes to depreciation treatment in general, taxing revenue instead of profits above a certain target, lots of policy tools available to balance corporate and citizen interests.

A lot of damage to be undone, as you mentioned. I’m not against automation, by any means, just how the gains and productivity from it is currently distributed (versus more equitable models).

No better to do a UBI. The jobs aren't good for the workers, only the money is.

Minimum wage you can think of as subsidizing automation—pay more or automate. That's not bad to the worker, and not a policy I'd complain about, but the tech industry doesn't deserve the subsidy.

UBI is more neutral, you pay more whether you automate or not, and the worker still has more negotiating power. This is better.

UBI is looking unworkable. Mature economies might have some reserves you can milk.

Tell me how does UBI work in a place like Cuba, Haiti or the Philippines?

Yang is saying $1000 per adult per month (he used to use the more undefined “per person” previously.

At 1000/adult/month one, it’s too much and the economy can’t afford that and two, despite that, that’s not enough for a family of four with two adults two unemancipated ($2000/mo).

I think UBI should be the end goal, but we're not ready as a people for it yet. Too much feeling versus rational economic thought.

I think they are doing just that, building the machines to keep people in mind, until the research helps the machines replace the humans. Automation is an inevitable process that is slowly creeping on us. I know the days of old are coming to an end and the new modern day warehouses will be nearly fully automated, but I am grateful for the opportunities that Amazon has today. there are hundreds of thousands of jobs thanks to the success of Amazon and even with a robotic facility, Humans still play a major part in keeping Amazon successful. The robots and machines help alleviate the work load and keeps the pace constant and work efficient. These times wont last forever so I'm getting this cash while I can. And as preparation for the future, I have also learned how to code through one of Amazon's career choice programs. Gotta take advantage of all the opportunities while they are available.

I also speak for myself, and there are tons of positions in my FC that don't involve robots at all. In the ship dock, we use conveyor belts, PIT machines, and pallet jacks. As you would imagine, it's quite crazy over there with tons of workers. But I wouldn't know how that area could be automated any further. Humans are needed to build pallets of packages and to build walls in trucks. Otherwise, we would lose money for just throwing the packages in the trucks. >It's unsurprising that these facilities are moving at such a pace that they're becoming increasingly dangerous and inhumane. I stowed previously for a year, and the pace increased when the new Nike systems were put in place. What that meant for me was that I could stow faster because I didn't need to scan the QR code on the bins I placed the items in. That alone took a couple seconds each time. I also saved my hands and wrists from injury by being able to use both hands when stowing the items. Before I handled them one handed with a scanner in the other hand. With these changes, I became one of the top stowers, and it was almost too easy after that.

With all due respect, It seems like you've created this account only to do positive PR for Amazon (which is against the site's guidelines,) and your comments and that of the other JAX2 accounts that appeared yesterday read like they've been filtered through HR.

Amazon deserves to have their say, and there's nothing wrong with your comments per se, but if you're really a social media ambassador be honest about it and don't pretend your comments are entirely independent.

> The only reason humans exist in the robot facilities is because they do something robots don't do well yet.

I know two companies which have been trying to robotise their biggest warehouses since the begin 90s; after many updates in hardware and software it still does not work for the reasons you state (and probably more).

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact