Gonzalez Bill to Protect Warehouse Workers from Unsafe Working Conditions Passes Assembly

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO – (Friday, May 28, 2021) –  Online retail corporations like Amazon and Walmart have guaranteed faster shipping times during the pandemic at the cost of debilitating work speeds for warehouse workers, leading to an increase in workplace injuries. Today, Assembly Bill 701 by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) to strengthen warehouse workers’ rights against arbitrary and abusive production quota systems passed the Assembly on a 49 to 17 vote. 

“We can’t stand by while corporations like Amazon and Walmart are putting ware-house workers’ bodies on the line, just to give their customers next-day delivery,” Assemblywoman Gonzalez said. “No worker should be forced to sacrifice their basic human needs for a paycheck.” 

Amazon worker productivity is managed through a system of constant surveillance, which often results in workers being forced to break safety rules to keep up. Yesenia Barrera, a former employee at an Amazon warehouse facility and a mother living in the Inland Empire shared her experience working 10-hour days under strict production quotas:

“The work is fast and harsh on the body. We are carrying, bending, reaching, twisting, and packing items from 30 to 60 pounds for hours at a time and walk 15 to 30 miles a day with no proper rest time in between,” Barrera said. “I always felt the stress of having to work fast or even ignore my personal needs like restroom or water because I didn’t want to be written up and terminated for it. We are not robots, we are human.”

AB 701 would make it clear that companies cannot discipline or fire a warehouse worker for failing to meet a quota that does not allow them to take meal and rest breaks and comply with health and safety laws. Any time an employee spends complying with health and safety requirements is considered “time on task” for purposes of any quota or monitoring system. 

The bill also directs the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) to establish new standards by January 1, 2023 to minimize the risk of injuries and disorders among warehouse employees who are subject to production quotas.

For questions or to schedule an interview with Assemblywoman Gonzalez, contact Mike Blount: Mike.Blount@asm.ca.gov