First, most blue-collar warehouse workers earn poverty-level wages, and at least two-thirds lack employer-provided health insurance [...] they earn $10.05 per hour [...] needed to afford rent and other basic living expenses: $11.59 per hour for a single worker [...] only about one out of five temporary warehouse workers reported having employer-provided health insurance, compared with 54 percent of direct hires. On average direct hires in the industry earned about $11.33 per hour and $21,444 per year. This compares with temps' average earnings of $9.42 per hour and $10,034 per year. [...] blue-collar warehouse workers earn an average annual income of only $16,800.
In part, low incomes reflect the lack of year-round employment, and sometimes the lack of full-time employment. Serving "just-in-time" consumer markets, the warehouse industry is highly seasonal. Moreover, in order to respond effectively to the fluctuating demand for consumer goods in the "just in time" retail economy while minimizing labor costs, many warehouse employees rely heavily on temporary agency workers (or temps). [...] between 46 and 63 percent of blue-collar warehouse workers are temps.
As a result, unemployment and underemployment among warehouse workers is common. Indeed, about 28 percent of all blue-collar warehouse workers in the region were found to be unemployed in the 2009-13 ACS. Unemployment is especially chronic among temps [...] 70 percent of all temporary blue collar warehouse workers in Inland SoCal were employed less than 10 months per year.
this has me thinking. any corporate bootlicker would defend the temp system as a way for the company to be flexible and save costs etc. but who picks up the costs for the worker? is the worker expected to just find another job for all the downtime? what if they can't, because all the jobs have the same up/downtimes? so the worker is supposed to just make less money due to factors outside their control?
reminds me of that part in my gig economy piece about expecting someone else to pick up the slack, who cares who
[...] Amazon warehouses are considered among the best in the industry relative to wages for both direct hire and temporary agency workers. A job ad posted by Amazon in 2017 for a full-time warehouse worker of "fulfilment associate" position in Rialto offered $12.25 per hour, somewhat better than the regional average wage rate cited above. Yet this wage is still below a living wage for the region, and no higher than the starting rate Amazon paid such workers four years earlier.
WWU did not pursue a traditional unionization campaign for several reasons. First, temps are highly vulnerable to employer retaliation, while undocumented immigrant workers face the further threat of deportation. Organizing temps into unions is not only practically challenging given their high turnover, but also legally complicated, as their employer of record and right to collective bargaining are complex and decided on a case by case basis. In light of this WWU sought to improve warehouse workers' employment conditions mainly through a combination of coalition building and collective action, while WWRC helped workers to file formal complaints against labor law violations.
Rather than targeting warehouse employers or temporary agencies, WWU targeted retailers which have the most power and resources in the goods movement industry. [...]
useful for tech contractor organising.
on p91, one method of retaliation is mentioned: failing to renew contract with the agency (citing this article by De Lara et al, 2016 in the Labor Studies Journal)
Warehouse workers have the capacity to make history, but not as they please--the circumstances inherited require innovation and novel forms of organizing and resistance. The obstacles to organizing posed by capital mobility, automation, political/legal uncertainty and the sheer structural power of capital requires multi-site, coordinated campaigns throughout the global supply chain and across the boundaries of firms. Workers face the daunting task of overcoming the tension between local demands and the demands of workers in other nodes of supply chain networks. Yet these impediments are not insurmountable. Just as capital has adopted new organizational forms to overcome the power of workers in the past, warehouse workers and other workers can and will adapt novel organizational forms in their struggle against neoliberalism and global capitalist hegemony.