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Supply Chain News: New Law in New York Aims to Reign in Amazon’s Use of Fulfillment Center Performance Standards



Despite Labor Groups Touting Victory Measure likely to have Little Impact, and Clarifying Standards Process makes Sense

Jan. 11. 2023


SCDigest Editorial Staff

In late December, the state of New York passed a law supposedly taking aim at overly tough productivity standards, following a similar new law passed in California in 2022.

Supply Chain Digest Says...

An Amazon FC metric called “time off task” – the amount of time an associate is not doing productive work – has been a target lately of workers’ rights groups, and may or may not be impacted by the new law.

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Though the law has applicability in any large warehouse, as with the law in California it seems targeted more specifically at Amazon and its fulfillment center operations.

Gov. Kathy Hochul signed the Warehouse Worker Protection Act into law, mandating that companies that employ warehouse workers directly or indirectly to provide those workers with a written description of quotas to which they are subject. In addition, workers cannot be required to meet quotas that prevent them from taking meal and restroom breaks.

The reference to “indirect” employees would seem to indicate a company would be on the hook for compliance even if it used a 3PL to handle its distribution operations.

Employers in New York will be required to both disclose and place limits on productivity quotas and provide their workers documentation detailing their productivity expectations.

The applies to organizations with 50 employees in a single warehouse or 500 workers statewide.

The bill says it was necessary because of “rapid growth of same- and next-day consumer package delivery, and advances in technology used for tracking employee productivity,” which leave warehouse workers “at high risk of injury and illness.”

“This is a real victory in our continuing fight for rights and collective bargaining for all warehouse workers so they have a voice on the job and can protect themselves,” Teamsters Joint Council 16 President Thomas Gesuald said.

“By bringing the Warehouse Worker Protection Act across the finish line, we have made sure that corporations like Amazon and UPS can’t wring all the profits they can out of their employees, leaving the workers to deal with their injuries,” State Sen. Jessica Ramos, author of the senate version of the bill, said in a statement. “Every warehouse worker has a community relying on them, relying on their ability to come home from work whole.”’

In an email, Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel told the web site that while the company agrees with the state’s goal, it believes the legislation was “based on a misunderstanding,” of Amazon’s performance metrics.

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She added that “Amazon does not have fixed quotas at our facilities. Instead, we assess performance based on safe and achievable expectations and take into account time and tenure, peer performance, and adherence to safe work practices.”

An Amazon FC metric called “time off task” – the amount of time an associate is not doing productive work – has been a target lately of workers’ rights groups, and may or may not be impacted by the new law.

The metric has led, Amazon critics say, to workers skipping breaks and obtaining injuries from working at too rapid a pace or taking safety shortcuts.

SCDigest’s Take: The new law in our view is really quite tame. Workers should have a clear understanding of how they are being measure, and obviously standards need to consider the need for restroom breaks and meal times – which we are almost certain they do at Amazon and the thousands of other DCs that use productivity standards.

While labor groups were heralding the law, the reality is little change is likely to be seen, other than maybe greater clarification of the standards process, which is a good thing.

Do you have any thoughts on New York's Warehouse Labor law? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback button below (email) or in the Feedback section.


Marketing Executive, Axestrack
Posted on: Aug, 10 2023

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