California bill aims at Amazon's productivity-tracking algorithms

The measure could be voted on by state legislators next week.

California is set to pass a bill that would rescind the productivity measurement algorithms allegedly being used in Amazon fulfillment centers. This was reported recently by NPR’s Morning Edition and The New York Times. In May, the bill passed California’s lower legislative body. The upper chamber will vote next week. The bill, if passed, would establish new transparency requirements for automated quota systems and ban any system that could threaten the safety and health of workers.

Lorena Gonzalez, a Democratic Assemblywoman from San Diego, introduced the bill in July. She cited Verge reports that “hundreds of” Amazon warehouse workers had been fired after failing to meet productivity targets at one facility in Baltimore in less than a year. The Associated documents revealed a highly automated system for tracking individual employees’ productivity rates.


“To make next-day delivery possible, corporations like Amazon have forced warehouse employees to work faster, service more customers with more orders in record amounts of time, and risk their bodies in the process,” Assemblywoman Gonzalez said in a statement introducing the bill. “No worker should have to sacrifice their fundamental human rights or accept such unjustified conditions in exchange for a paycheck. This is not the future of work.

Amazon has not yet publicly stated its position on the bill and did not respond to techydeed ‘s request for comment.

The text of Gonzalez’s bill does not name Amazon but requires all warehouse employers in California to give workers access to the details of any quota used to measure them. Employees can request a written description of any quota they are subject to, along with the number of tasks or materials that must be produced or processed within the specified time frame and any adverse employment actions that may result from not meeting the quota.

This bill would also prevent any quota system from preventing meal and rest breaks or using the toilet.

After the high-profile battle over reports that Amazon’s drivers were forced to use the bathroom while on the job, bathrooms are a sensitive topic for Amazon; Amazon initially denied the reports, which resulted in dozens of drivers sharing their own experiences and difficulties taking bathroom breaks while on the job. The Gonzalez bill would not apply to delivery drivers. However, the majority of concern about bathroom breaks has been focused on them.


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