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Amazon tried rebranding warehouse employees as ‘industrial athletes’

If the excruciating pace of ungrateful work in an Amazon warehouse is beating you up, why not eat some salad?

A new motherboard report revealed a brochure created by Amazon as part of its WorkingWell program, and it looks like something out of an optimistically forgotten high school health course. The irrationally sunny, vaguely condescending attempts to reinterpret the grueling layers of Amazon workers as an invigorating challenge rather than mind-breaking grunt work, warehouse workers are characterized as “industrial athletes”.

“Here at Amazon you will become a competitive athlete,” says the brochure with original emphasis. “Just like an athlete training for an event, competitive athletes need to prepare their bodies to be capable [to] doing their best at work. We want to make sure you feel good while you are doing your best! “

The booklet, titled “Amazonians Guide to Health and Wellness,” was distributed in an Amazon warehouse in Tulsa, Oklahoma and provided workers with tips on how to prepare for their shift, such as “Enjoy more fish and nuts” and “Buy shoes at the end of the shift.” Year “. Day when your feet are swollen to leave plenty of room if they swell while you work. ”It also has a section on what workers can do to“ feel better ”and suggests workers get away stretch, massage, compress and lift injured areas and “[take] Take care of YOU on your days off. “

According to Amazon, its WorkingWell program is focused on reducing workers’ risk of injury by providing them with “physical and mental activities, wellness exercises, and support with a healthy diet.” Although it was officially launched in May, the company says parts of it have been piloted in the US since 2019.

Amazon informed Motherboard that the booklet “Amazonians Guide to Health and Wellness” was inaccurately created and immediately removed. However, Motherboard reports that it has apparently been around since at least November 2020 and was still available a few weeks ago.

Mashable has asked Amazon for a comment.

This isn’t the only time Amazon has tried to rename one of its less palatable aspects. The company recently stopped calling its ten and a half hour overnight storage shifts a “megacycle” and switched to the probably more PR-friendly “single cycle”.

Amazon’s warehouses are notorious for the high risk of injury in the workplace. A new report from the Strategic Organizing Center found that there were 5.9 serious injuries for every 100 Amazon warehouse workers in 2020 – a rate nearly 80 percent higher than non-Amazon warehouses.

Instead of paternalistic brochures, these fraudulent statistics could be reduced more effectively by lowering Amazon’s high productivity expectations and thus the breakneck speed at which employees have to work. Of course, if all you care about is the bottom line, it’s much easier to put responsibility for the wellbeing of employees on them by simply telling them to “go to bed at the same time every night”.

The rather deaf pamphlet also raises the question of how realizable Amazon’s suggestions actually are. Eating whole grains, fruits, and vegetables sounds good and good, but many Americans find it difficult to do because of issues such as cost, availability, and lack of time to prepare food. In fact, thousands of Amazon’s warehouse workers rely on food stamps and with shifts that can last over 10 hours, there is little time or energy left to plan healthy meals.

While Amazon’s current minimum wage of $ 15 an hour is significantly better than the statutory minimum wage of $ 7.25, it’s still not exactly comfortable – especially if you’re hoping to buy enough fresh groceries to make one To feed family. According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Living Wage Calculator, the living wage for a single adult with no children in Tulsa is $ 13.52 an hour, compared to just $ 8.70 per day for groceries. Amazon’s salary rate gets even less attractive when you consider the high likelihood that you will have to spend part of your salary on medical bills.

Between the oppressive conditions, the few opportunities for advancement, and the high risk of injury, consuming more greens seems to be the least of the problems faced by Amazon warehouse workers.

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