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(The Morning Call)   Amazon.com's temporary staffing firm fights to keep warehouse workers from collecting unemployment benefits   (mcall.com) divider line 30
    More: Interesting, staffing firm, unemployment compensation, Lehigh Valley, Rosemarie Fritchman, long-term stability, wage earners, workers, fights  
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7376 clicks; posted to Main » on 18 Dec 2012 at 10:37 AM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-12-18 11:03:21 AM
4 votes:
Sort of conflicted since I've worked in the staffing business for 20 years now. The biggest problem, as I see it, is these types of mega-contracts go to the lowest bidder, period. Amazon wants "x" labor cost per hour. Many times, these contracts are awarded with no consideration of what the worker's actual wage will be. So what happens is XYZ Staffing will quote a flat labor fee of "x" per hour and then do everything possible to extract money from the employee, like paying only minimum wage for a job that pays a full-time employee $12/hour.

They'll have on-site coordinators who are paid based on maximizing production. Temp. sick that day? Fired! Late 10 minutes? Fired! Too slow? Fired. Doctors appointment? Fired! It is really a shiat job for shiat wages and no benefits. And these firms will often flat-out lie about why they terminated someone. These are the desperate positions that many are left to compete for.

Now, I don't know about this particular program or staffing company. I have stopped even bidding on bottom dollar contracts. Too much work for too little profit. Also, unlike many of our competitors, we DO offer our employees benefits such as vacation, holiday, health insurance, dental, vision, etc. While we typically have temp-to-perm programs to transition employees to our clients after 90 days, if they stay on longer than that, we give raises on our own dime.

It is just more short-sightedness and extortion by corporate America. I guess we are all ultimately to blame because of our thirst for the lowest price. But damnit, I've seen too much of this over the years. I bet half of the temps don't have proper work authorization at this warehouse.
2012-12-18 10:51:52 AM
4 votes:

bhcompy: While I know Amazon has a documented history of these kind of problems, I find it strange that temporary employment contracts are eligible for unemployment benefits(or even pay in to unemployment insurance). I guess the fact that it does should be a disincentive towards hiring temporary labor, which is a positive effect(if it results in permanent hirings, at least).


Ehh, makes sense to me. You think companies are using a lot of "temp" workers now? If they didn't have to pay into unemployment too, EVERYONE would have their job reclassified as temporary.
2012-12-18 10:41:50 AM
4 votes:
Any employers who fights to stop a worker's unemployment claim in THIS economy deserves to be hanged.
2012-12-18 11:23:47 AM
2 votes:

TheGreatGazoo: Generally speaking, temporary workers aren't eligible for unemployment. You can't collect 99 weeks of unemployment because you worked 4 weeks at a job you knew was only going to be there for 4 weeks.


That's true, but what if it's a temp-to-hire position, or if it is simply classified as "temporary" with no set end date; they just keep you on indefinitely as a "temp"? I know of people who have worked temp-to-hire positions, and the "temp" part lasted years before they were hired on. When my wife got her job, she was a temp-to-hire. When she first got hired on, they told her it would be six months before they decide if she would be hired or not. Nearly a year later she was finally hired on. The other employees who worked in her department told her she was lucky she got hired on so quickly; all of them had to wait at least two years before getting hired on.
2012-12-18 11:17:25 AM
2 votes:

bhcompy: While I know Amazon has a documented history of these kind of problems, I find it strange that temporary employment contracts are eligible for unemployment benefits(or even pay in to unemployment insurance). I guess the fact that it does should be a disincentive towards hiring temporary labor, which is a positive effect(if it results in permanent hirings, at least).


In Georgia, the temp has to earn a minimum of $3,300 on a position to be eligible. It is not unheard of here to cut people off as they approach $3,000.
2012-12-18 11:13:05 AM
2 votes:

bhcompy: While I know Amazon has a documented history of these kind of problems, I find it strange that temporary employment contracts are eligible for unemployment benefits(or even pay in to unemployment insurance). I guess the fact that it does should be a disincentive towards hiring temporary labor, which is a positive effect(if it results in permanent hirings, at least).


My dad got laid off from his job in 09, one of the last people to be laid off.

He got hired back as a "temp" in 10, more work than before, no benefits and less pay.

It's a very, very, very damn good thing that he got unemployment when he got let go from that "temporary" job - they only really needed to hire him IMHO because they realized they accidentally let people go too early before they could properly ship the whole operation to Mexico. Of course, that took over half a year...

He's got a full time job now, but yeah. I'm perfectly fine with that, especially when so many temporary jobs aren't so temporary.
2012-12-18 11:01:46 AM
2 votes:

bhcompy: I find it strange that temporary employment contracts are eligible for unemployment benefits(or even pay in to unemployment insurance).


It depends, if it is a job with a set end date then no unemployment insurance, you took the job knowing it would end on a certain day, if it is a temp to perm or long time assignment then yes. The issue in this article is that this staffing agency is that they seem to be working people in pretty much permanent positions, then firing people with cause which means no unemployment then fighting every claim like it was a mufti-million dollar lawsuit.
2012-12-18 10:49:39 AM
2 votes:
Even though its not really them, Amazon.com should rethink who they subcontract to.
2012-12-18 10:44:15 AM
2 votes:
most temp agencies treat their workers like pond scum on a full time basis. fair weather friends of a legal pimp nature. nasty affair for the most part. i can picture a young Mitt Romney type being successful owning such a business. scumbags.
2012-12-18 10:41:02 AM
2 votes:
If feel the need to put "Integrity" in your company name, you probably don't have any.
2012-12-18 02:07:07 PM
1 votes:

Egoy3k: mgshamster: Your statement was that other workers were able to handle it. The underlying question that follows is "...so why can't she?" Your following statement even alluded to that, as you claimed that because she couldn't, she shouldn't work.

No I very clearly stated;

I'm not suggesting that she is being dishonest about her problems but the question remains if she cannot do the job which she was hired to do why would them firing her be a bad thing?

I never said she shouldn't work, only that she shouldn't work at a job that she cannot do.


She could do the job. The job was "unloading boxes." She could do that just fine. It was the environment for which she was required to do the job that prevented her from doing it. There is no reason that an Amazon box unloader should have to work in a high heat environment; it's not like it's a steel mill or anything.

You would move them to a different position or make accommodations for them to be able to maintain their work. In the case of the steel mill, make sure they drink lots of water (that fixes the heat sensitivity problem in most cases), or move them to an office position or some other position that has less heat.

You have never owned or managed a business have you? Lets assume you make accommodations that that worker drinks lots of water as this is seemingly the most benign option. The next thing you know you have another worker upset that he didn't have a continuous fire watch after a welding job because the other worker had to go get some more water. That's a safety violation. So then you make it so they are never asked to do fire watch then you get a seniority grievance about how the new guy never gets the 'shiatty' jobs but you can't explain that he has a medical condition since that's confidential personal information. Eventually you end up paying a guy to do next to nothing, and ruin the morale of your other workers in the process.

Yes I'm exaggerating, and you are oversimplifying the 'solutions' to the problem so I think we break even. The reality is that not everyone can do every job and being employed is not a right, if you can't do your job you should look for jobs you can do.


There's definitely some give and take when finding the right fit for a job. And I wasn't oversimplifying a solution. If a person is more prone to heat illness, the solution, very plainly, is to make sure they are drinking enough water. How that is played out can vary (while I was in the army, I required those individuals to carry a canteen full of water where ever they went, especially while we were deployed in Iraq). In the situation you describe, if there are employees that have to do fire watch in a very hot environment, then switch out the watch on a more frequent basis, such as hourly or every two hours (two hours might work best since hourly workers are required to take a 10 minute break every two hours; they can switch at the break). Now you have a situation where the heat sensitive person can do that shiatty job, and employees won't complain about having to work it for long periods of time. There's always fire watch coverage, so there's no safety issue.

I've never worked at a steel mill, but I would imagine that there are plenty of other jobs the individual could work or be trained to work that didn't involve them standing right next to the molten metal. Perhaps outside working with unloading raw materials or loading finished products. Maybe driving or operating machinery (or other vehicles) involved in the process. Or maybe working in the office instead of the plant. Of course, since many companies nowadays seem to refuse to train employees, the problem might lay there.

All in all, though, if a boss can't figure out how to make it work, maybe they're not the right fit for the job, and they should be fired - legitimately. Incompetence is a perfectly good reason to fire someone.

With that, there is some leeway when it comes to hiring qualifications, so long as it is plainly stated before the individual gets hired. For example, if there is a requirement to lift so much weight (such as up to 50 lbs), then only those who can will get hired for that position. But if a person is perfectly capable of working the job, and then later they get some medical condition that makes it so they can't (perhaps a broken leg or injured back), do you really think that it's acceptable to fire them for it (assuming, of course, that the injury wasn't caused by their own incompetence at the job, in which case you're firing them for incompetence, not the injury)?
2012-12-18 01:32:12 PM
1 votes:

Egoy3k: I'm not suggesting that she is being dishonest about her problems but the question remains if she cannot do the job which she was hired to do why would them firing her be a bad thing?


I agree with you. Federal law requires that any company with more that 250 employees state the physical requirements for the job in the job announcement. If an applicant accepts an offer of employment, he/she accepts the conditions of work and indicates that he/she meets the physical requirements. If he/she then claims that he/she is cannot meet those requirements, the employer is within its rights to terminate the employee. If an employee becomes disabled, the employer must make reasonable accommodations as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act. If the disability is such that the employee can no longer perform his/her duties, the employer can move the employee into another suitable position, if available and the employee is qualified, but is not required to retain the employee.
2012-12-18 01:23:43 PM
1 votes:
recollectionbooks.com
2012-12-18 12:50:58 PM
1 votes:
Worked for a company, we were all contractors. Required to wear uniform, had schedule, no actual pay, 100% commission, 60 hour work weeks, travel up to 3 hours per day, no benefits, they would take money out of your commission check for random things or returned products that weren't actually returned, no unemployment if fired.

Multiple complaints have been filed in many states by many different 'contractors'. The company is still in business and I believe one of the fastest growing companies.

The lawyers get it all in class action suits and nothing in the way of criminal charges will be filed even though people have tried to get them prosecuted. What can be done to stop this kind of behavior from companies if our legal system offers little to no recourse?
2012-12-18 11:53:10 AM
1 votes:

dopekitty74: Skirl Hutsenreiter: padraig: What does companies fight againt worker's unemployment claims ? Does that come out of their pocket, in your country ?

Employer pays, and their rates are set based on their claims. TFA says it varies from ~2-10%. So an employer who's always hiring and firing pays significantly more than one that rarely fires without cause. Thus the incentive to keep down the number of claims.

How about not firing people for stupid reasons? I'm sorry, but the woman mentioned in the article was let go because she became ill. Isn't it illegal to fire people for illness based absences?


If she provided medical evidence of an illness necessitating her absence, yes, it would be illegal to hire her. But they can put her on a medical leave of absence without pay. She was a temp worker and they don't get many benefits. It sounds like her employer is a herd of dicks, since they are involved in hundreds of disputes each year.

Get used to it folks. If labor doesn't get stronger, more and more companies are going to outsource to staffing agencies, who will fill jobs with temporary employees, who have few rights. No one can argue that unions went to far and became their own worst enemies, but they do serve a purpose.
2012-12-18 11:50:42 AM
1 votes:

trappedspirit: you have pee hands: If feel the need to put "Integrity" in your company name, you probably don't have any.

Right. And if anyone mentions they deliver a high quality product they probably don't. And if a grocery store has to say they have a wide selection of products, they probably don't. Basically if any company says anything positive about themselves they must be lying.


Their original choice was shiatty Temps, but they couldn't get licensed with that name.
2012-12-18 11:50:33 AM
1 votes:

Egoy3k: I'm willing to bet real money that there were many other workers who were working on the same day in the same area and experienced the same 'brutal heat' without any ill effects. I'm not suggesting that she is being dishonest about her problems but the question remains if she cannot do the job which she was hired to do why would them firing her be a bad thing?


You must have missed the whistle-blowing articles that came out this past Summer about Amazon werehouses. They seal them up to prevent theft and don't provide any type of adequate cooling so pretty much you're working in an environment where it's hotter than it is outside during the Summer months. They park ambulances outside the place to attend to people that do get exhaustion and end up counting it agaisnt the person if they didn't come back in to work. They tried to get OSHA to get envolved but they don't have the power to make the warehouses comply.

The reason why you're saving money at Amazon is because they keep their operating costs so low they make Walmart jealous, which in turn obviously ends up screwing the people that are actually involved in the shipping process. And contracting with businesses that put forth an extra effort to make sure workers don't get benefits is really no suprise. They're the online version of Walmart as far as how they see their blue-collar payroll as an expense that eats into sales.
2012-12-18 11:41:10 AM
1 votes:

Whiskey Dickens: majestic: Now, I don't know about this particular program or staffing company. I have stopped even bidding on bottom dollar contracts. Too much work for too little profit. Also, unlike many of our competitors, we DO offer our employees benefits such as vacation, holiday, health insurance, dental, vision, etc. While we typically have temp-to-perm programs to transition employees to our clients after 90 days, if they stay on longer than that, we give raises on our own dime.

You guys sound pretty enlightened. Would you be comfortable sharing the name of your agency?


I'm not the authorized media release guy, so I really can't. We have 55 offices, mostly in the southeast part of the country.
2012-12-18 11:40:45 AM
1 votes:

Another Government Employee: bhcompy: While I know Amazon has a documented history of these kind of problems, I find it strange that temporary employment contracts are eligible for unemployment benefits(or even pay in to unemployment insurance). I guess the fact that it does should be a disincentive towards hiring temporary labor, which is a positive effect(if it results in permanent hirings, at least).

In Georgia, the temp has to earn a minimum of $3,300 on a position to be eligible. It is not unheard of here to cut people off as they approach $3,000.


Here there's a minimum amount of hours you must have worked, and they calculate your benefits based on average weekly hours, so if your boss is a real douchebag and tries to force you to quit by reducing your hours/shifts, it negatively affects the amount of benefits you get.

/how the hell is a person supposed to live on 504 a month? Thanks a lot former boss asshole...
//one good thing, he got shiatcanned a week after he fired me for being such a douche
2012-12-18 11:37:10 AM
1 votes:

doczoidberg: Any employers who fights to stop a worker's unemployment claim in THIS economy deserves to be hanged.


Sometime it is appropriate for an employer to fight an unemployment claim. Every time a claim is filed against an employer, their insurance premium goes up. It can become very expensive. So if you have a deadbeat employee, who you must fire for cause, you shouldn't have to be on the hook for his unemployment benefit. An employer cannot file an appeal for benefits being paid because of a layoff or any not-for-cause termination.

I had to fire a guy one time because he could never finish an assignment on time and pretty much just came to work whenever he wanted. I never cared if my employees worked remotely or not, but I expected results. This clown was wasn't working when he was not in the office. He became insubordinate and hostile when I counseled him about his poor work ethic. So I gave him a week's paid vacation and told him to go think very hard about whether he wanted to continue working for the company and gave him a list of detailed list of improvements he had to make if he decided to stay. If he decided to leave, he'd get a severance payment. He decided to stay, but didn't even try to meet his remediation plan. So after a month, when I called him to ask why he hadn't reported for work and he called me a "honky bastard," I canned him. He never returned his $2500 company-owned laptop and we decided not to prosecute him for theft. But when he filed for unemployment benefits, we challenged it and won.
2012-12-18 11:30:05 AM
1 votes:

Skirl Hutsenreiter: padraig: What does companies fight againt worker's unemployment claims ? Does that come out of their pocket, in your country ?

Employer pays, and their rates are set based on their claims. TFA says it varies from ~2-10%. So an employer who's always hiring and firing pays significantly more than one that rarely fires without cause. Thus the incentive to keep down the number of claims.


How about not firing people for stupid reasons? I'm sorry, but the woman mentioned in the article was let go because she became ill. Isn't it illegal to fire people for illness based absences?
2012-12-18 11:26:06 AM
1 votes:

majestic: It is just more short-sightedness and extortion by corporate America. I guess we are all ultimately to blame because of our thirst for the lowest price. But damnit, I've seen too much of this over the years. I bet half of the temps don't have proper work authorization at this warehouse.


The thing is that Amazon supposedly is one of the few corporations that actually looks at long-term investments rather than the short-term, which is the trap that most individuals in the business community seem to fall into.

So Amazon is gearing up to the inevitable future when we will be living in a miserable Dickensian dystopia. Not pretty.

/Are there no prisons?
/Are there no workhouses?
/Humbug!
2012-12-18 11:19:31 AM
1 votes:

mgshamster: Bit'O'Gristle: This scene has become commonplace since Amazon opened a Lehigh Valley warehouse in 2010. But the human resources agent is not from Amazon. She works for Integrity Staffing Solutions, a company paid by Amazon to recruit workers who unload boxes, process orders and pack shipments for the giant online retailer.

/Welcome to the new order, where a company won't hire you directly, but through a staffing agency. That way, no benefits paid, and you are disposable. No more working the company job, as a well paid union member. Those days are over. Now you get paid a shiat wage, for a farmed out company that doesn't give a crap about you, and will fight to make sure you get nothing, while they get everything.

Even worse (or at least just as bad): A new type of "on-call" employment has been created, where you call in before your shift starts to see if you are needed. If not, you don't come in and you aren't paid. If yes, you better show up or you are fired. Now imagine this type of work on a schedule that changes week by week, and you are only told what the schedule is a few days in advance.


This exists in the fast food industry. Even more fun, that four hour shift you thought was happening is now 1.5 because of sales.
2012-12-18 11:16:48 AM
1 votes:

skinink: KrispyKritter: most temp agencies treat their workers like pond scum on a full time basis. fair weather friends of a legal pimp nature. nasty affair for the most part. i can picture a young Mitt Romney type being successful owning such a business. scumbags.

Exactly, so I don't know why the temp agency's behavior is Amazon's fault Most temp agencies don't give a fark about you personally, they just need the bodies available for staffing calls. And you should see the hourly pay rate the temp agencies charge companies versus what you actually earn in your paycheck. You'd have a fit seeing exactly how big the difference is and what you are not pocketing.


I kind of wonder if people would be gratified to see how much more they're really "making" than they think if companies broke down various health insurance, unemployment insurance, and other per-employee benefits right on their check... or if they'd get even angrier at seeing how much more is taken out of what their real spend is. People already get pissed enough about FICA and their share of health insurance line items, after all.
2012-12-18 11:16:13 AM
1 votes:

Bit'O'Gristle: This scene has become commonplace since Amazon opened a Lehigh Valley warehouse in 2010. But the human resources agent is not from Amazon. She works for Integrity Staffing Solutions, a company paid by Amazon to recruit workers who unload boxes, process orders and pack shipments for the giant online retailer.

/Welcome to the new order, where a company won't hire you directly, but through a staffing agency. That way, no benefits paid, and you are disposable. No more working the company job, as a well paid union member. Those days are over. Now you get paid a shiat wage, for a farmed out company that doesn't give a crap about you, and will fight to make sure you get nothing, while they get everything.


Even worse (or at least just as bad): A new type of "on-call" employment has been created, where you call in before your shift starts to see if you are needed. If not, you don't come in and you aren't paid. If yes, you better show up or you are fired. Now imagine this type of work on a schedule that changes week by week, and you are only told what the schedule is a few days in advance.
2012-12-18 11:06:43 AM
1 votes:
This scene has become commonplace since Amazon opened a Lehigh Valley warehouse in 2010. But the human resources agent is not from Amazon. She works for Integrity Staffing Solutions, a company paid by Amazon to recruit workers who unload boxes, process orders and pack shipments for the giant online retailer.

/Welcome to the new order, where a company won't hire you directly, but through a staffing agency. That way, no benefits paid, and you are disposable. No more working the company job, as a well paid union member. Those days are over. Now you get paid a shiat wage, for a farmed out company that doesn't give a crap about you, and will fight to make sure you get nothing, while they get everything.
2012-12-18 11:06:04 AM
1 votes:

Egoy3k: I'm willing to bet real money that there were many other workers who were working on the same day in the same area and experienced the same 'brutal heat' without any ill effects.


Humans are different. We're not all alike. Someone who is old enough to type on a computer should have realized this by now. People are affected by abnormal conditions differently. The reason why she experienced heat illness and her coworkers did not is the same reason why some people get a cold and others do not, or why some people can handle alcohol better than others.

I'm not suggesting that she is being dishonest about her problems but the question remains if she cannot do the job which she was hired to do why would them firing her be a bad thing?

This depends on whether the company had any policy in place for providing the employees water OR allowing them to drink water at their work station if they don't have water stations nearby and don't allow employees to leave to get water. If they didn't, then not only should she not lose her job, the company should be sued for violating OSHA standards. Also, it's illegal to fire someone because they have a medical condition (such as sensitivity to heat), although this might be a state-by-state thing rather than federal.
2012-12-18 10:57:47 AM
1 votes:

dopekitty74: padraig: What does companies fight againt worker's unemployment claims ? Does that come out of their pocket, in your country ?

I was wondering that too. In canada, we all pay into the Employment Insurance system via the government. Sometimes still have to fight for benefits, but not directly with the company.


It varies from state to state in the US, but generally speaking, both you and your employer contribute to the system out of your paycheck (a few bucks every pay period). Then if you collect, depending on a few other things, your employer will pay an added portion on top of it while you are collecting (there are exemptions for this, it mainly comes into play with companies that have a lot of people go on unemployment).

You collect, typically, about 60% of your pay, but it is capped at a certain amount, which again, varies from state to state. For instance, in NJ, its something like 450 a week, however right across the river in NY, its 3something.
2012-12-18 10:53:45 AM
1 votes:

dopekitty74: padraig: What does companies fight againt worker's unemployment claims ? Does that come out of their pocket, in your country ?

I was wondering that too. In canada, we all pay into the Employment Insurance system via the government. Sometimes still have to fight for benefits, but not directly with the company.


In America, companies are generally taxed at a rate that's determined by how many unemployment claims are made by their fired employees. Companies that fire a lot of people tend to fight the claims to try and keep these taxes at a lower rate.
2012-12-18 10:51:35 AM
1 votes:

padraig: What does companies fight againt worker's unemployment claims ? Does that come out of their pocket, in your country ?


It does in that the rate you pay goes up for every successful claim. Some times WAY up. Also - I know some people like to say it "comes out of their paycheck". Um, no, at least in Virginia it is 100% employer paid.
 
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