Amazon Camperforce Payback for Workamper Elves

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. 

Amazon Camperforce payback

All you legal geeks can click to enlarge

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”.[3]

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.[1][2]

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.[1][3] — 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. 

 

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3 Responses to “Amazon Camperforce Payback for Workamper Elves”

  1. I got the same letter worked through integrity, but for nearly the whole year in 2009 in Fernley. I moved back to California for a few years, remembered why I left and ended up moving back to Reno. Right after I moved to California, Amazon started calling me to ask if I was interested in getting hired on. They called several times for a year. When I moved back, I sent them an email and got an interview 2 days later. They still had me on file. I was hired on and working before 2 weeks. After 2 years, 1 network wide record for highest percentage cases stowed in a month (435%) and 2 records during peak for the most cases stowed at a facility network wide for weeks 6 and 9, they kept passing me over for problem solver positions. So one day on lunch, I noticed we had a Walmart DC just outside of town. I applied and was offered a job. Amazon topped out at $15.75/hr with monthly bonuses worth up to maybe 8%. 2 1/2 years no cost of living raises.
    WalMart started me at $21.60, and I topped out 3 years later at $27.60/hr, we’ve had a cost of living raise every year, quarterly bonuses worth up to $1.10 for every hour we worked in that quarter ($600+), and incentive pay up to 30% our base wage. If I pull a rate over 100%, they average each week, and anything over 100% up to 130% is applied as a 1% to 30% increase to my base wage. I make 68k at Walmart.
    But my letter said I was entitled to $482. It’s based on how many hours you worked.

  2. Don’t spend it all in one place. LOL
    Class action suits sometimes right a wrong and it appears that such is the case and I assume workers will now be paid for the time in line. Unfortunately, as with so many case action suits, it’s the lawyers that make the big pay day, which is fine in a case like this. but it’s too bad Amazon wasn’t force to pay the actual 25 minutes, times your hourly wage times the number of days you worked to each employee. I suspect that would have been more than $28. I suspect the law firm was happy to get their share of the $13,500,000 first leaving peanuts for the workers. 13.5 million is a drop in the bucket for Amazon.

    Sorry, I’m such a cynic, comes with old age. 🙂

    • Haha I’ll buy you a beer with it, Larry! Great points about the actual amount of compensation, I couldn’t agree more and I’m NOT an old cynic!

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