Having to start the application process over could cost a brand-new dad like Brian a couple of weeks’ worth of work and pay. “Hurry up,” a trainer encourages me when he sees me pulling ahead of the others, “and you can put the other items back!
That afternoon, we are turned loose in the warehouse, scanners in hand. Silent, despite thousands of people quietly doing their picking, or standing along the conveyors quietly packing or box-taping, nothing noisy but the occasional whir of a passing forklift. But if I punch into my scanner that it’s not there, I have to prove it by scanning every single other item in the bin, though I swear on my life there’s no Rob Zombie Voodoo Doll in this pile of 30 individually wrapped and bar-coded batteries that take me quite a while to beep one by one.The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that more than 15 percent of pickers, packers, movers, and unloaders are temps.They make less an hour on average than permanent workers. There are so many temps in this warehouse that the staffing agency has its own office here.Sometimes, they’re paid piece rate, according to the number of units they fill or unload or move. ” and then they’re off the phone and eating as fast as the rest of us.Always, they can be let go in an instant, and replaced just as quickly. At the announcement to take one of our two 15-minute breaks, we hustle even harder. Lunch is 29 minutes and 59 seconds—we’ve been reminded of this: “Lunch is 30 minutes and 1 second”—that’s a penalty-point-earning offense—and that includes the time to get through the metal detectors and use the disgustingly overcrowded bathroom—the suggestion board hosts several pleas that someone do something about that smell—and time to stand in line to clock out and back in.