Opponents of Amazon’s new warehouses say many of the new jobs they create end up hurting workers. Investigations have found that Amazon warehouse workers are forced to work at speeds that can lead to accidents, repetitive motion injuries, and other damage to their bodies, with injury rates much higher than the average in the warehouse industry. . Delivery van drivers are also pressured to make many deliveries quickly, sometimes leading to traffic collisions and even deaths, according to a report from ProPública and others.
These problems contribute to extremely high turnover among Amazon warehouse workers: a recent study New York Times investigation It is estimated that about 3 percent of Amazon’s hourly workers leave the company each week.
“They come under the guise of creating jobs, but in reality we know that these jobs exploit our communities,” says Alfredo Romo, executive director of Neighbors for Environmental Justice, an advocacy organization based on Chicago’s southwest side. “Historically, our communities have been asked to sacrifice our health in the name of employment.”
For Romo, the Amazon facility that opened near his home this year is the physical embodiment of a missed opportunity. The warehouse is in the McKinley Park neighborhood, just 3 miles from the delivery center in Gage Park.
He and other local activists had pushed for the abandoned building that formerly stood where the warehouse was built to be converted into a community center, with a gym, a health clinic and perhaps even a startup incubator. Those types of services are being installed in a former industrial area next to Lincoln Park, an affluent neighborhood on the city’s whiter, wealthier north side that is being redeveloped with housing, offices, riverfront businesses and green spaces. But when the city considered the future of a similar area on the southwest side, about a mile from the McKinley Park warehouse, it recommended keeping it industrial.
Looking at the spacious warehouse across the street this summer, Romo shook his head. “Those things are happening on the North Side, but why not here, where poor black and brown people live? Can we get that kind of stuff too?
Construction workers dressed in fluorescent yellow were digging on the street corner, where a sign for Amazon’s new building would soon go up. Romo greeted them in Spanish as he passed.
“We could have done a lot of wonderful things here, things that could have helped the community,” he said. “Instead, we have this warehouse that will bring all this pollution, increased traffic and more damage to our roads and our homes. Not worth it. “We could do better.”