As the unofficial holiday shopping season kicked off on Black Friday, consumers are getting an up-close look at an Amazon warehouse on Cyber Monday. During Monday's early morning hours, Fox 29 Philly reporter Kelly Rule took to Twitter to share a behind-the-scenes look of what happens after you hit purchase on all of those items in your cart.
When you shop @amazon online, this is what happens behind the scenes! Staff at their fulfillment center in Robbinsville, NJ have been preparing for #CyberMonday all year. We’re live all AM to give you a look at all the action & details on all of today’s deals! @FOX29philly pic.twitter.com/9AywUvJndN— Kelly Rule (@KellyRuleTV) December 2, 2019
In the video, workers, wearing orange vests, could be seen moving about the large warehouse floor, with other employees shown moving about on other floors.
A second video shared later in the morning showed dozens of boxes moving along an assembly belt, giving shoppers an idea of just how many orders Amazon is processing this holiday season.
With the bulk of holiday shopping now in full swing, Amazon has come under scrutiny for its treatment of workers, with several current and former employees speaking out against the mega company and it unsafe working conditions. Speaking with the New York Post, former employee Maureen Donnelly likened Amazon warehouses to “cult-like sweatshops.”
“I’m not afraid of hard work… But when I walked into that Amazon warehouse, there wasn’t a team anything. It was just, ‘Do your job!’” Donnelly said. “I soon learned that only difference between an Amazon warehouse and a third-world sweatshop were the robots. At Amazon, you were surrounded by bots, and they were treated better than the humans.”
According to Donnelly, “too many bathroom breaks could get the bosses all hot and bothered” and work stations were not equipped with chairs, meaning employees only got off their feet while in the bathroom. Donnelly also said that the warehouse was “hot as hell in that building — it felt like 150 degrees,” though employees had to wear an orange vest and black and grey gloves. Donnelly was also expected to stock at least 12 items a minute and employees could be fired for crossing “into the robots’ domain.”
Another former employee, Emily Guendelsberger, told ABC News that although Amazon’s process was “incredibly efficient,” it “leaves no room for human weakness whatsoever — any way in which humans deviate from ideal robot workers.” Guendelsberger also explained that through the grueling work, she sustained a repetitive stress injury in her elbow that she still deals with today, something that may have been common due to the fact that the Amazon warehouse she worked at had vending machines with painkillers.
Responding to Guendelsberger’s statements, Amazon claimed that “for someone who only worked at Amazon for approximately 11 days, Emily Guendelsberger’s statements are not an accurate portrayal of working in our buildings.”
“We are proud of our safe workplaces and her allegations are demeaning to our passionate employees, whose pride and commitment are what make the Amazon customer experience great,” the statement added. “We encourage anyone to come see for themselves what it’s like to work at the Amazon fulfillment center where she worked at by taking a free, public tour of the site.”