Amazon DSP Drivers Reveal The Challenges Of One-Day Shipping

Amazon has more than 115,000 drivers working under independent small businesses – Delivery Service Partners, or DSPs – who deliver Prime packages to doorsteps with one-day shipping. We talked to current and former Amazon DSP drivers about the pressures of the job. From urinating in bottles to running stop signs, routes that lead drivers to run across traffic, dog bites and cameras recording inside vans at all times – some of the 115,000 DSP drivers have voiced big concerns.

Documents Show Amazon Is Aware That Their Delivery Drivers Pee In Bottles

If employees actually had to pee in bottles, Amazon said, “nobody would work for us.” That’s a lie.

In anticipation of Sen. Bernie Sanders’s scheduled trip to Bessemer, Alabama, to support the unionization drive by Amazon workers there, Amazon executive Dave Clark cast the $1 trillion behemoth as “the Bernie Sanders of employers” and taunted: “So if you want to hear about $15 an hour and health care, Senator Sanders will be speaking downtown. But if you would like to make at least $15 an hour and have good health care, Amazon is hiring.”

Rep. Mark Pocan replied via tweet: “Paying workers $15/hr doesn’t make you a progressive workplace when you union-bust & make workers urinate in water bottles,” echoing reports from 2018 that Amazon workers were forced to skip bathroom breaks and pee in bottles. Amazon’s denial was swift: “You don’t really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you? If that were true, nobody would work for us.”

But Amazon workers with whom I spoke said that the practice was so widespread due to pressure to meet quotas that managers frequently referenced it during meetings and in formal policy documents and emails, which were provided to The Intercept. The practice, these documents show, was known to management, which identified it as a recurring infraction but did nothing to ease the pressure that caused it. In some cases, employees even defecated in bags.

Amazon did not provide a statement to The Intercept before publication.

One document from January, marked “Amazon Confidential,” details various infractions by Amazon employees, including “public urination” and “public defecation.” The document was provided to The Intercept by an Amazon employee in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who, like most of the employees I talked to, was granted anonymity to avoid professional reprisal.

The employee also provided an email sent by an Amazon logistics area manager last May that chastised employees for defecating into bags. “This evening, an associate discovered human feces in an Amazon bag that was returned to station by a driver. This is the 3rd occasion in the last 2 months when bags have been returned to station with poop inside. We understand that DA’s [driver associates] may have emergencies while on-road, and especially during Covid, DAs have struggled to find bathrooms while delivering.”

“We’ve noticed an uptick recently of all kinds of unsanitary garbage being left inside bags: used masks, gloves, bottles of urine,” the email continues. “By scanning the QR code on the bag, we can easily identify the DA who was in possession of the bag last. These behaviors are unacceptable, and will result in Tier 1 Infractions going forward. Please communicate this message to your drivers. I know if may seem obvious, or like something you shouldn’t need to coach, but please be explicit when communicating the message that they CANNOT poop, or leave bottles of urine inside bags.”

Halie Marie Brown, a 26-year-old resident of Manteca, California, who worked as a delivery driver for an Amazon delivery contractor, Soon Express, until quitting on March 12, told The Intercept that the practice “happens because we are literally implicitly forced to do so, otherwise we will end up losing our jobs for too many ‘undelivered packages.’”

An email that Brown received from her manager this past August has a section titled “Urine bottle” and states: “In the morning, you must check your van thoroughly for garbage and urine bottle. If you find urine bottle (s) please report to your lead, supporting staff or me. Vans will be inspected by Amazon during debrief, if urine bottle (s) are found, you will be issue an infraction tier 1 for immediate offboarding.”

While Amazon technically prohibits the practice — documents characterize it as a “Tier 1” infraction, which employees say can lead to termination — drivers said that this was disingenuous since they can’t meet their quotas otherwise. “They give us 30 minutes of paid breaks, but you will not finish your work if you take it, no matter how fast you are,” one Amazon delivery employee based in Massachusetts told me.

Asked if management eased up on the quotas in light of the practice, Brown said, “Not at all. In fact, over the course of my time there, our package and stop counts actually increased substantially.”

This has gotten even more intense, employees say, as Amazon has seen an enormous boom in package orders during the coronavirus pandemic. Amazon employees said their performance is monitored so closely by the firm’s vast employee surveillance arsenal that they are constantly in fear of falling short of their productivity quotas.

One email, provided to The Intercept by a Houston-based driver associate who works for an Amazon contractor, alludes to company cameras that can find workers who leave urine bottles behind in the vans. “Data from these cameras can be sent to Amazon in the event of any incident on the road. (We have had several bad accidents, a stolen van, drivers leaving piss bottles etc in the vans).”

The employee said, “Every single day of my shift, I have to use the restroom in a bottle to finish my route on time. This is so common that you’ll often find bottles from other drivers located under seats in the vans. … The fact that Amazon would tweet that is hilarious.”

Public reports that Amazon employees skipped bathroom breaks originated in a 2018 book by the British journalist James Bloodworth. That book, “Hired: Six Months Undercover in Low-Wage Britain,” alleged that Amazon workers at a warehouse in Staffordshire, U.K., resorted to urinating in bottles in order to meet production quotas. While most of the employees I spoke to were drivers who delivered products, workers said the practice was commonplace in factories as well.

The vote by Amazon warehouse workers in Alabama on whether to unionize has become a flashpoint for organized labor. While Amazon has publicly criticized Sanders, he is far from the only prominent politician to voice support for the employees’ right to form a union. Last month, President Joe Biden released a video statement saying, “Every worker should have a free and fair choice to join a union,” which “should be made without intimidation or threats by employers.”

The election, which ends on March 29, would determine if the more than 5,000 warehouse workers will join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. None of Amazon’s 800,000 employees in the U.S. are currently unionized.

Source: The Intercept

AMC renting out theaters for $99 amid pandemic recovery plans (up to 20 people)

AMC locations across the U.S. are renting out entire theaters for moviegoers starting at $99.

Groups up to 20 people can enjoy a private user experience. The price for rental goes upwards to $349 depending on the movie chosen by the group and the theater location, AMC states on their website.

Currently, 34 films are being offered in rental packages. Older releases start at $99 plus tax while newer movies begin at $149.

There are several add-ons that also increase the price for groups, AMC disclosed on their FAQs page. Popcorn and other snacks are not included but can be bought using snack vouchers as the theaters are now cashless.

You can also bring your own food for a catering fee of $250. On condition, AMC doesn’t allow people to bring goodies that they already sell or that require a “heating element.”

Should you want to greet your group with a microphone, that will be another $100 fee.

The newest initiative comes while the theater company tries to recover from the hit it took from shutting down amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Source: Fox Business

NBCUniversal’s new streaming service ‘Peacock’ now available on Roku devices — NBC’s biggest projects such as The Office and Parks And Recreation to be pulled from Netflix and Hulu as Peacock exclusives

Peacock is a new streaming service that makes hundreds of NBC TV shows and Universal films available for free. Comcast, NBCUniversal’s parent company, officially launched free and premium versions of Peacock on July 15, though some Comcast internet and cable customers have had early access to the service since April.

Peacock was intended to launch alongside the 2020 Olympics to provide a live stream for the Summer Games in Tokyo, but the linchpin event has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the major disruption, NBCUniversal managed to launch Peacock as scheduled.

Peacock has brokered deals for new original series produced by Tina Fey and Kevin Hart, as well as rights to stream classic series like “Law & Order” and “Will and Grace.” “The Office,” a perennial Netflix favorite and one of  NBC’s most beloved series, will move to Peacock in January 2021. A new original series adapting the book “Brave New World” has already debuted on Peacock, along with original films, like “Psych 2,” and exclusive documentaries, like Dale Earnhard Jr’s “Lost Speedways.”

Peacock’s library is also full of classic Universal movies, and the streaming service has announced that all eight “Harry Potter” movies will be coming to the platform over the next six months. Other franchises, like “Jurassic Park” and “Fast & Furious,” will be available on a rotating basis as well.

Peacock will also feature live sporting events, like the Premier League and the 2021 Olympics. A number of popular sports radio shows, including “The Dan Patrick Show,” “The Rich Eisen Show,” and “PFT Live with Mike Florio” will also stream exclusively on Peacock.

Source: Business Insider

Amazon’s Expired Food Problem

Amazon is shipping out food products from third-party sellers that are expired, stale, or tampered with. Four months after CNBC first reported the problem, a new analysis found the sellers are still shipping expired food, even as regulation begins to catch up.

Amazon told CNBC that this happens in very isolated incidents, and that it will suspend or terminate a seller’s account for violations of its strict policies. Still, the CNBC analysis found expired hot sauce, beef jerky, granola bars, Doritos, coffee creamer and baby food being sold by third-party sellers, which can impact consumer trust of the brands and Amazon itself.

Why Amazon Has So Many Counterfeit Goods

Seizures of counterfeit products at U.S. borders have increased 10-fold over the past two decades as e-commerce sales have boomed. The total value of seized goods – if they had been real – reached nearly $1.4 billion in 2018. Most are coming from mainland China or Hong Kong.

CNBC visited one of the busiest entry points in the U.S. to get a glimpse at the influx of fake products and to find out what authorities and companies are doing to stop counterfeiting.