Transforming Workers into Coal Miners and Humans into Robots
By: Salvatore Cento
September 2018. The first Amazon warehouse opened up right here in Staten Island. Eighteen football fields long. Hundreds of thousands of square feet.
With that giant wheel that was the talk of the town being made into quieter whispers over time, news of the conglomerate suddenly had the borough feeling important again.
This was going to be an amazing opportunity for those who couldn’t find a job. 3,000 openings came into fruition for those who were desperately looking for work.
The pay was more than minimum wage and health benefits were a nice surprise as well. How could people shake their head to the chance at making money?
They didn’t. Positions filled up quickly and the warehouse went off running. But with all the excitement, thorns started to rise up out of the ground concerning this new venture.
News from various outlets suddenly came out that ran wild. Injuries at the warehouse were five times greater than the national average, according to Gizmodo’s OSHA Incident Rate.
Reports of no air conditioning. 15 minute breaks but 7 minutes to walk to the break room. Work practices that were designed for robots, not humans. Try to form a union and you’re fired.
According to the same female employee who reported the long walk, she also said that the manager shortly came in after her and started a vocal countdown. Starting at four minutes and announcing as each minute passed. Worked to the bone.
According to a 2019 study by The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health, 66% of 145 workers at the site endured bodily pain because of the extensive labor.
When compared against other jobs, these workers were injured more frequently than coal miners. Let that sink in.
And through all of this, there was a protest. On a cold November night in 2019, more than a hundred people were out with their signs and shoe-stomping. A widely talked about protest right in front of the workplace.
To curb any resilient force that might come out of this, an Amazon representative said that for all who were out, only five were actual employees.
With that to be actually confirmed and with all the bad misfortunes setting a rain cloud over the giant warehouse, another one is set to make way onto Staten Island.
Yes, a second, tougher shipping shop. According to a spokesman, this one will apparently speed up deliveries.
Now for the million dollar question. Will the residents of Staten Island actually care enough to make enough noise and try to stop the brutal injuries to come?
Or has money become that captivating? Will people say enough is enough with Amazon’s greediness in exploiting people and using them until their immobile?
Or will temptation overthrow time? Show me how you can be faster than a pre-programmed robot. I’ll wait.
After having your foot crushed between pallets and being told by your superiors that you have to go back to work, show me a straight face. Don’t worry about it, you’re fine.
Let this be a warning. At the end of last semester, I wrote about BJ’s, the Walmart-like corporation taking a foreseeable place here on Staten Island.
As an offering, 18 acres of once protected wetlands is in the midst of being fed to Corporate America. That was a naturally made Earth. Animals.
The massive spread of land even served as protection for some property owners against Hurricane Sandy.
This is the next step. If naturally made environments aren’t going to be a problem, those in power think that taking away your soul is the next easiest thing to do. Instead, show them that you have a spine.