Labor Unions Create Interactive Experience at State Capitol Ahead of Landmark Warehouse Policy Vote
|Interactive warehouse demonstration held at the steps of the State Capitol to show the stress experienced by warehouse workers, calling on legislators to support AB 701.|
|(Sacramento, CA) With dozens of union and community members in attendance, a fully interactive warehouse demonstration was held at the steps of the California State Capitol on Monday, April 19, calling on elected officials to support AB 701, the warehousing policy aimed at decreasing worker injury and creating transparency of debilitating quotas from giant corporations, such as Amazon and Walmart. |
Click here to view photos and videos from the event.
The over 500 sq ft. construction included a conveyor belt and shelving allowing participants to experience the incredible physical and mental stress that warehouse workers experience every day in an attempt to meet dangerous quotas.
“I stand here at the steps of our State Capitol and challenge any legislator to come out and get a small glimpse, just a taste of the grueling work that our warehouse workers experience on a daily basis,” said Ron Herrera, President of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO. “I have personally felt the impact warehousing has had on a worker’s body. I have personally seen how an injury to the shoulders, neck, and back can debilitate a worker and how they must live with pain and chronic injury their entire life. AB 701 will help protect frontline warehouse workers by requiring employers to disclose quotas and pace of work standards to workers and state enforcement agencies.”
“I always felt the stress of having to work fast or even ignore my personal needs like restroom or water because I didn’t want to be written up and terminated for it, and this is something lots of workers fear every day, said Yesenia Barrera, former Amazon Worker. ”We are not robots, we are human. Work until you are hurt is not a model Amazon should be praised for.”
“Over the last few years, we have seen warehousing become dominant in the Inland Empire,” said Sherheryar Kaoosji, Executive Director of the Warehouse Worker Resource Center. “When you have a high pace of work in an Amazon facility, the biggest employer in your region, that leads to workers working incredibly fast and a very high turnover. It also leads to high injury rates such as the facility in Eastvale where they see over 17 out of 100 workers injured in any given year. That is a huge number of our community members. Especially because Amazon hires very young people who are coming out of these facilities injured; sometimes for life. That has a huge impact on our communities, on our health systems, but also on our families.”
“There’s something deeply wrong with allowing mega-corporations like Amazon and Walmart to push their workers to a literal breaking point, just so customers can get next-day delivery,” Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) said. “Warehouse employees are expected to do more and work faster at the expense of their own bodies. AB 701 demands real transparency around work quotas used in warehouses and establishes clear safety standards to protect workers from these dangerous workloads.”
Authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (AD 80), AB 701 would protect frontline warehouse workers by requiring employers to disclose quotas and work speed standards to workers and state enforcement agencies. It would also prohibit employers from penalizing workers for time spent on complying with health and safety laws and direct Cal/OSHA to create a standard to minimize injuries and protect workers against arbitrary and abusive work quota systems.
“Safety is really important to me and my coworkers,” said Cesar Castro, United Parcel Service worker. “We are constantly trained or reminded to work safely. We go to work to get a paycheck to provide for our families, but the most important thing to me is that I come home to my family safe and without injury. We are always reminded that our most important stop of the day is making it home to our family. That is not the reality of all workers, but it can be. I know it can because I live it every day. All workers deserve to feel the safety my coworkers and I have.”
AB 701 is set to be voted on by the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee on Thursday, April 22. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, corporate giants like Amazon and Walmart have seen record profits. The convenience of online shopping and unbelievable delivery times comes with the terrible costs of increasingly brutal work speeds and alarming rates of serious work-related injuries. Amazon’s own records show that its workers were injured on the job at double the average rate of the general warehousing industry and triple the average rate across all private employers in 2018. In fact, Amazon warehouse workers are injured more frequently than coal miners, lumberjacks, trash collectors, and police officers.
Press Conference FB Live Link: https://fb.watch/4ZHKCmHnAQ/
About Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO
Since 1885, the LA Fed has been a force for progress. We are a federation of over 300 affiliated union and labor organizations representing more than 800,000 members, each with their own unique stories and backgrounds. We stand united in our mission to build a movement for justice committed to protecting the rights of working people and improving the lives of our families and communities.