(Time) A group of workers with their fists raised in solidarity hold a scrawled sign: “We are humans not robots!” They and others at an Amazon warehouse in Minnesota protested in March and on July’s Amazon Prime Days. They were speaking against the day-to-day dehumanizing reality of their workplace.
If your only interaction with Amazon is packages arriving on your doorstep, it can be hard to understand what workers are unhappy about, or why one described his fulfillment center as an “existential sh-thole,” or why so many others shared stories about crying at work.
I’m among them. I took a job in an Amazon fulfillment center in Indiana over a few weeks–along with a call center in North Carolina and a McDonald’s in San Francisco–to investigate the experience of low-wage work.
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I wasn’t prepared for how exhausting working at Amazon would be. It took my body two weeks to adjust to the agony of walking 15 miles a day and doing hundreds of squats. But as the physical stress got more manageable, the mental stress of being held to the productivity standards of a robot became an even bigger problem.