I discussed mandatory overtime above and some of the ways in which it encroaches on employees’ private and family obligations. Mandatory overtime has been a perennial issue for my entire tenure at SDF8. Employees periodically express their frustration. Below are some recent such expressions posted on the VOA board along with company responses.
From the VOA board 5/20/16: “Why are we getting so much MOT?”
The company response from a Senior Operations Manager on 5/23/16: “SDF8 continues to process the largest growing area in Amazon–apparel. We continue to see volumes increase.”
The employee’s simple and short question expresses his exhaustion. Mandatory overtime supersedes his other obligations. He is poorly compensated for his role and his sacrifice creating the company’s success. In fact, he is disposable. The SOM’s response ignores his pain and frustration and offers no empathy.
From the VOA board 5/27/16: “Fed up with unnecessary MOT. Morale is low and you’re treating it like peak season. It’s not necessary. It’s preventative.”
The employee refers to peak season, generally Thanksgiving through Christmas, when mandatory overtime is understood by all employees to be constant and essential. But here, he is questioning the level of mandatory overtime he is required to work during non-peak periods.
The company response from an Area Manager on 5/28/16: “MOT is based off customer orders expected and forecasted. I B [inbound] volume, We will continue to use HUB to allow associates as much time as needed to be notified if MOT is not needed.”
The manager’s response is, again, dismissive of the employee’s frustration. He then uses the opportunity to promote the Amazon HUB, the data linkage to the company from hourly worker’s homes and mobile devices that the company has been aggressively implementing.
From the VOA board 6/3/16: “Pre-peak 2016 for NB3”
The company response from an HR manager on 6/4/16: “Next week volume for customer orders is projected to increase by 187,000 units this is driving the MOT for next week. Be sure to refer any friends to take advantage of the referral bonus.”
The HR manager, again, uses the company’s VOA board response to promote another SDF8 initiative–employee referrals. I have indicated that SDF8 faces difficulties in keeping bodies on the floor because of the company’s questionably conscionable practices, so, through the employee referral program, the company asks employees to help maintain an adequate workforce by referring friends and family. For each referral who lasts 60 days with the company, the referring employee receives a $125 bonus.
Sunender, the current General Manager, described the employee referral program this way during the June 2016 All hands meeting:
“Refer associates. If you refer associates, of course, it’s easier for us to contain all the volume that we have. . . . This is how you can get a hundred and twenty-five dollars. . . . It’s easier for you to collect the money, help us succeed, help us reduce the MOT . . . People within the community will work here . . . more of them are going to work here. It’s your choice, to collect a hundred and twenty-five dollars for them working here. I assure you, we will convince them to come. It’s your choice if you want to have some money in the meantime. Obviously, if you do that, it will make it a lot quicker. It’s hard for me to convince all of them. It’s much easier if everyone is doing the convincing with me.”
From the VOA board 6/4/16: “NB3 = Sick of overtime yall”
The company response from a Senior Operations Manager on 6/5/16: “We are working on borrowing labor from other deps and having to cope with the increased volume, and keeping the production up is also helping to eliminate MOT. Thank you for your hard work serving our customers.”
This SOM’s response is a little more nuanced. He indicates that the company is conscious of the problem and doing its best to “cope” with volume demands through labor sharing, etc. He thanks the employee, references the customer, and places some of the responsibility back on the employee, indicating that “keeping the production up” will mitigate employee overtime requirements.