back to article California Governor signs bill protecting warehouse workers from unsafe quotas

California Governor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday signed Assembly Bill 701, establishing new protections for workers at warehouse distribution centers. The new law requires employers operating large warehouses in the state to disclose worker production quotas. It also prohibits disciplinary action against workers for missing …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    > "Predictably, The California Retailers Association, a trade group that lobbied against the bill, was less enthusiastic."

    This part doesn't make sense to me, unless "The California Retailers Association" is just a front for Amazon. Most brick and mortar retailers and online *competitors* would welcome any evening of the playing field. AFAIK Amazons injury rate is above the norm -

    > "Amazon warehouse injuries '80% higher' than competitors, report claims" BBC 2020

    And this -

    > "With California’s ports facing record backlogs of ships waiting off the coast and inflation spiking to the fastest pace in 13 years, AB 701 will make matters worse for everyone – creating more backordered goods and higher prices for everything from clothes, diapers and food to auto parts, toys and pet supplies."

    In other words the sole purpose of the US economy is to print money, import all life necessities, and work marginal 50-somethings like they are 20-something to sort and deliver the imported goods.

    1. jmch Silver badge

      Not to mention that the solution to this:"With California’s ports facing record backlogs..." is to create more jobs to handle the backlog

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Also not to mention "eliminate good-paying jobs". WTF? Define "good". If it's a shit job and you are being worked to death, then no amount of pay makes it "good paying". If anything, reducing productivity per person to manageable levels may well mean hiring more staff. If that results in "higher prices" as per the whingers complaint, then so be it. If people want the convenience of the likes of Amazon and their same day delivery, then don't expect to get it cheaper than elsewhere on the backs of people being overworked. What;s really sad is that people feel they have to work in places like that. Yes, I know some people like that and thrive on "challenges", but you can only do that for so long and not everyone can be promoted upwards.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All of North America could do with some of the sensibility coming out of California, Washington (state), and British Columbia (Canada's "left coast".)

    For whatever reason, they "get it" about a lot of work-life and health-safety-environment priorities that I really agree with and support.

    I'm tired of the "productivity and overtime at any personal cost" mentality that infests most of North American business environments, combined with a "pay them pennies so we can spend the millions" mentality of largesse to investors and management at the expense of the people who PRODUCE the companies goods and services for the customers.

  3. Winkypop Silver badge
    Devil

    To be fair now

    Space rides are expensive and there aren’t any fancy toilets in those capsules.

  4. Potemkine! Silver badge
    Trollface

    This new law is anti-business, fascist and communist! If those demagogic lawmakers continue that way, they will end forbidding child labour or slavery.

    1. Swarthy
      Meh

      Tap dancing on the thin ice of Poe's Law there.

  5. Sgt_Oddball

    So if they can do this for warehouse workers...

    Would they start to do the same for food delivery riders? (you know, where electric bikes have become a requirement rather than a convenience because algorithms keep on adding more time pressures).

    As the article states, workers aren't machines. Shame that the rules in the states make it so easy to swap them out like broken parts though.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't understand how the retailers association actually oppose anti-amazon laws when 97% of their businesses are threatened by this kind of unfair competition. Anything that makes business more expensive for Amazon is good for everyone else.

    Well unless they are just an Amazon astroturfing outfit.

  7. adam payne

    Over the summer, Retail Industry Leaders Association, a Washington, DC-based retail trade group, warned that AB 701 "would make it virtually impossible to terminate employees with any kind of awareness of these rules for poor performance."

    That would depend on if your dismissal of the person was fair or whether is was a result of your insane performance targets.

    1. Cybersaber

      I think their point is actually valid. Yes those workers are treated terribly and yes this law is well-meant and needed, but you have to remember that people aren't all angels.

      All you'd have to do is 'suddenly develop' a sudden case of IBS, or complain about the Mexican food you ate last night and go play a game on a smartphone in a stall for hours.

      Most people wouldn't do this, but there are bad eggs that would, and that's what their comment was about - those bad eggs would be hard to fire because you'd have to somehow find a non-creepy way to prove they _weren't_ actually doing their business.

      Overall, the law is a good'un, but it could have been thought out better on the execution side to prevent abuse _by_ the workers.

      (Imagining the BOFH and the PFY both turning up the day after the law goes into effect with doctor's orders the next day re: serious cases of chronic irritable bowel syndrome.)

      1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

        Wouldn't the BOFH have Irate Bowel Syndrome?

        1. Francis Boyle

          I don't know about IBS

          but I've certainly had FFBS.*

          *Yes, the first 'F' stands for what you think. The second's your choice.

  8. martinusher Silver badge

    Not a new problem

    Back in the days when the US had assembly lines this type of activity was known as a 'speedup'.

    If you've seen old film of car production lines you'd see a whole bunch of people standing beside a conveyor belt along which would pass incomplete cars. Your job would be to stand at a station and add a part -- a wheel, say -- and you'd perform this timed operation all day, every working day. You'd get repetitive strain injuries from doing this but as this wasn't recognized as a legitimate industrial injury then you would just soldier on, you have mouths to feed. Every now and again the management would notice that that there appeared to be slack time creeping in to these assembly operations so they'd just speed up the conveyor a little. This would continue until the unions complained.

    Speedups were lampooned in a famous "I Love Lucy" show. She's working on a production line making chocolates. The belt gradually gets faster and faster and the humour is built around her futile attempts to keep up.

    So what Amazon has done isn't new. What California has done is but I suppose it all falls under the category "health and safety". As a rule workers in the US have few rights and protections compared to Europe (or even the UK) so some pushback is probably overdue.

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