A new law in New York will require companies that operate distribution centers to be more transparent about their work requirements, aiming to protect warehouse workers from possibly unlawful quotas.
Gov. Kathy Hochul last week signed the Warehouse Worker Protection Act, which is modeled after a similar, first-in-the-nation law signed in California last year. The New York law calls on companies that employ warehouse workers directly or indirectly, such as Amazon.com Inc.
and United Parcel Service Inc.
to provide those workers with a written description of quotas to which they are subject. In addition, workers cannot be required to meet quotas that prevent them from taking meal and restroom breaks.
According to text of the law, it was necessary because of “rapid growth of same- and next-day consumer package delivery, and advances in technology used for tracking employee productivity,” which leave warehouse workers “at high risk of injury and illness.”
“By bringing the Warehouse Worker Protection Act across the finish line, we have made sure that corporations like Amazon and UPS can’t wring all the profits they can out of their employees, leaving the workers to deal with their injuries,” State Sen. Jessica Ramos, author of the senate version of the bill, said in a statement. “Every warehouse worker has a community relying on them, relying on their ability to come home from work whole.”
The law, which is set to take effect in February — 60 days after it was signed — comes as Amazon shareholders are once again submitting a resolution calling for an independent audit and report on working conditions at the company’s warehouses. Last year, that resolution got 44% of shareholder votes.
This proxy season’s shareholder resolution cites numerous reports and findings, including by the Division of Occupational Safety and Health of the State of Washington Department of Labor and Industries, which have “found that Amazon pressures its workers to maintain a very high pace of work without adequate recovery time to reduce injury risks.”
Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, said in a statement that the new law is “a big win for workers’ safety.” He noted that New York has seen a big increase in warehouse facilities, with Amazon opening more than 70 facilities in the state, more than half of which have been built since January 2021.
Amazon and UPS did not immediately return requests for comment this week.