I never thought I would see the day. It’s Amazon Camperforce payback time for workamper elves like me. Over ten years after my short, not-so-sweet seasonal gig at Amazon in Fernley, Nevada, I was amused to receive this letter. It indicates I was part of a class action lawsuit settlement against the Amazon Camperforce temp agency and Amazon itself.
Supreme Court Delivers Amazon Camperforce Payback News
When Amazon recently crushed a unionization attempt by workers at the Bessemer, Alabama facility, I was sad for those employees. But what a relief to learn that sometimes our justice system helps the little guy prevail.
In the Jesse Busk, Laurie Castro, Sierra Williams, and Monica Williams versus Integrity Staffing Solutions and Amazon.com class action lawsuit, Amazon temp workers at the Fernley distribution center recently won a $13,500,000 settlement against the behemoth and its minions, the Integrity Staffing temp agency. I was an Integrity worker who was part of the Amazon Camperforce during the 2009 holiday season. Because of that, I get to claim my share of justice. A whole $28. Wheeee!
I’m glad someone was willing to fight Goliath
Way back when I worked for the Great Satan in 2009, we worker bees were subjected to long security clearance inspection lines at least three times a day: when we entered the warehouse floor, when we went to lunch, and again, when our shift ended. The process was practically a strip search to ensure we weren’t stealing anything, and it took as long as 25 minutes at a time. Fair enough.
But what wasn’t fair was that we weren’t compensated for those long wait times at the end of the day. Our shift ended while we were on the floor. Then we had to stand in line to exit. I knew it wasn’t right, but once I quit Amazon I promptly tried to forget about the whole sordid experience. I got on with my life, but a few others who stayed on the job didn’t forget.
My fellow Amazon Camperforce workers found some excellent labor rights lawyers willing to take on Goliath. Those sharks argued that Amazon Camperforce elves and other warehouse employees were entitled by the Fair Labor Standards Act to be paid for those 25 minutes in line. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court.
Here’s the Wikipedia summary of Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. Busk:
Justice Clarence Thomas delivered the unanimous judgment of the Court. He wrote that “an activity is integral and indispensable to the principal activities that an employee is employed to perform — and thus compensable under the FLSA — if it is an intrinsic element of those activities and one with which the employee cannot dispense if he is to perform his principal activities”.
Thomas then argued that the security checks were not integral to Busk’s job because they could be eliminated without adversely affecting the required work. In addition, the time waiting could have been reduced if the employer hired more screeners or stagger work shifts, which also would not adversely affect the required work.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justice Elena Kagan, delivered a concurring opinion, emphasizing that any activity related to worker safety and efficiency is also “integral and indispensable” and therefore should still remain covered. However, the security checks did not have anything to do with worker safety and efficiency. — Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. Busk, from Wikipedia
Amazon has exploded in size since the days I worked there. And so has their ability to exploit the ground level workers who make Bezos a filthy rich bastard. I’m glad some people are are keeping an eye on things.