The California Senate voted Wednesday to approve legislation preventing companies like Amazon from imposing production quotas that force employees to miss breaks or jeopardize their safety. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo
Sept. 8 (UPI) -- The California State Senate on Wednesday passed a bill placing limits on production quotas for warehouse workers.
In a 26-11 vote, the Senate passed Assembly Bill 701, which prohibits companies from imposing production quotas that prevent workers from taking state-mandated breaks or using the bathroom when needed as well as those that keep employers from complying with health and safety laws.
The bill also would provide workers, their representatives and government officials greater access to detailed records of quotas and workers' rates.
It was crafted in part as a response to a report by the Strategic Organizing Center that said that Amazon's serious-injury rate nationally last year was nearly double the rest of the warehousing industry.
Amazon uses algorithms to track workers' "time off tasks," which the company says monitors "issues with the tools that people use" as well as underperforming workers. The company, however, has said that less than 1% of terminations among operations employees are performance-related.
"In the Amazon warehouse space, what we're trying to take on is this increased use of quotas and discipline based on not meeting the quotas, without a human factor in dealing with a reason why a worker might not make a quota," said the bill's author, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez.
Retail and business groups have opposed the legislation, saying it will result in costly litigation and holdup the industry despite its apparent focus on Amazon.
Ron Herrera, international vice president of the Western Region for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, hailed the approval of the bill as "a historic victory for workers at Amazon and other major warehouse companies."
"These workers have been on the front lines throughout the pandemic, while suffering debilitating injuries from unsafe quotas," said Herrera.
The Senate measure will be sent to the Assembly, which passed an initial version in May, before making its way to Gov. Gavin Newsom's desk for signature.