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Amazon’s white-collar workforce says their warehouses need better conditions

The situation isn’t as bad at other tech company warehouses and manufacturing facilities.

Workers in hardhats and neon vests view a conveyor belt system that is under construction at a new Amazon fulfillment center in Sacramento.
Workers oversee a conveyor belt system under construction at an Amazon fulfillment center in Sacramento.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Rani Molla is a senior correspondent at Vox and has been focusing her reporting on the future of work. She has covered business and technology for more than a decade — often in charts — including at Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal.

Amazon’s white-collar workforce is concerned about the conditions of the company’s blue-collar employees, according to a recent anonymous survey. Tesla’s tech workers, on the other hand, mostly seem to think that the company’s plant laborers are doing just fine.

Some 41 percent of Amazon workers surveyed on anonymous workplace app Blind said the company should improve its conditions for warehouse workers, compared with 36 percent at its biggest competitor Walmart (which includes people at its subsidiary and just 15 percent at eBay.

Amazon didn’t directly comment on the survey but sent this in an email: “To ensure we are raising the bar, we receive direct feedback from employees through our Connections program to ask associates a question every day about how we can make things even better, we develop new processes and technology to make the roles in our facilities more ergonomic and comfortable for associates, and we investigate any allegation we are made aware of and fix things that are wrong.”

Amazon is one of the largest employers in the US. The e-commerce company has doubled its global workforce in the last three years to more than 600,000, not including the 100,000 temporary workers it employs during the holidays. Amazon has been dinged in the media for its labor conditions and for compensation of warehouse workers, who are an integral part of getting packages from the online marketplace to your door. Recently warehouse workers have pushed for unionization to help deal with these problems.

Tesla, which employs 10,000 workers at its electric-car manufacturing plant in Fremont, Calif., had the highest share of workers — 42 percent — say that, no, warehouse conditions don’t need to be improved. Tesla, like Amazon, has had its share of labor concerns, including safety issues and verbally abusive behavior from Tesla CEO Elon Musk himself.

Blind is most popular among engineers at these companies, with nearly half of users identifying as such. The rest of the users tend to be other white-collar workers — not the people actually working in warehouses, but presumably people with an understanding of the company as a whole. Amazon workers in general have been very vocal lately about their opposition to the company’s lack of diversity and its relationship with law enforcement, including the sale of facial recognition software to police.

People use the Blind app to discuss work issues — compensation, management, company culture, layoffs — anonymously, without fear of retaliation from their bosses. Blind accounts need to be verified through users’ work emails, which enables Blind to ensure discussions about a company are actually coming from people who work there.

The survey was conducted among 1,650 workers at Amazon, Walmart/, Tesla, Apple, Google, and eBay. All of them have at least some warehouse workers or other employees involved in labor-intensive roles.

Blind counts Amazon and Microsoft workers as its biggest employee user base; the app launched in Seattle, home to both of those tech giants’ headquarters. In this study, more than 900 Amazon employees responded. The rest of the companies had at least 100 respondents, meaning their survey results might not be as robust.

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