Sep 8, 2021 - Politics & Policy

California passes bill addressing speed quotas for warehouse workers

An amazon warehouse

An Amazon warehouse in Germany. Photo: Ronny Hartmann/AFP via Getty Images

Warehouse workers in California would gain more legal pathways to fight speed quotas set by employers under a bill passed Wednesday in Sacramento that addresses a growing trend at some of the country's largest workplaces.

Why it matters: This bill is the first of its kind and could help ensure the safety and well-being of a massive and growing workforce.

Background: Warehouse jobs have ballooned in recent years, with Amazon leading the charge with over 950,000 workers across the United States — rising to the place of the second-largest employer in the country.

  • Amazon has drawn scrutiny for such demands, even as the productivity metric is being adopted across the industry, per NPR.
  • Amazon warehouses rack up twice the rate of injuries compared to the industry average, according to an investigation by Reveal.

Details: The bill creates pathways to appeal to employers if workers can't safely meet quotas or take breaks they are entitled to.

  • Gov. Gavin Newsom has not indicated whether he'll sign the bill, per NPR.

What they're saying: "It's the first step in changing working conditions in the warehouse," Veena Dubal, a labor law and technology expert, told NPR.

  • The other side: "[Do] we need this broad, sweeping legislation [that] impacts every aspect of the supply chain in California? I don't think so," Rachel Michelin, head of the California Retailers Association, told NPR.
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