Apr 26, 2019

Automated firings at Amazon

An Amazon warehouse in Orlando. Photo: Paul Hennessy/NurPhoto/Getty

In a 14-month span starting in August 2017, Amazon fired about 300 full-time employees at a single warehouse in Baltimore for lack of productivity, according to reporting from The Verge that Amazon confirmed to Axios.

The big picture: That's a significant chunk of the roughly 2,500 people employed at the Baltimore warehouse where the firings occurred, reports the Verge's Colin Lecher.

  • "Assuming a steady rate, that would mean Amazon was firing more than 10 percent of its staff annually, solely for productivity reasons," Lecher writes.
  • Extrapolating to North America, that churn rate would mean thousands are fired every year for packing boxes too slowly.
  • In a statement to Axios, Amazon said that "in general, the number of employee terminations have decreased over the last two years at this facility as well as across North America."

According to documents The Verge obtained, Amazon has a system for automatically rating warehouse employee productivity and sending them warnings or even pink slips if their numbers fall — "without input from supervisors."

  • The Verge quotes Amazon as saying that that supervisors can step in and prevent an automated firing from taking place.

Go deeper

John Kelly defends James Mattis against Trump attacks

John Kelly in the White House in July 2017. Photo: Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Former White House chief of staff John Kelly defended James Mattis on Thursday after President Trump attacked the former defense secretary as "the world's most overrated general" and claimed on Twitter that he was fired.

What he's saying: “The president did not fire him. He did not ask for his resignation,” Kelly told the Washington Post in an interview. “The president has clearly forgotten how it actually happened or is confused."

Barr claims "no correlation" between removing protesters and Trump's church photo op

Attorney General Bill Barr said at a press conference Thursday that there was "no correlation" between his decision to order police to forcibly remove protesters from Lafayette Park and President Trump's subsequent visit to St. John's Episcopal Church earlier this week.

Driving the news: Barr was asked to respond to comments from Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who said Tuesday that he "did not know a photo op was happening" and that he does everything he can to "try and stay out of situations that may appear political."

Updates: Cities move to end curfews for George Floyd protests

Text reading "Demilitarize the police" is projected on an army vehicle during a protest over the death of George Floyd in Washington, D.C.. early on Thursday. Photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Several cities are ending curfews after the protests over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people led to fewer arrests and less violence Wednesday night.

The latest: Los Angeles and Washington D.C. are the latest to end nightly curfews. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan tweeted Wednesday night that "peaceful protests can continue without a curfew, while San Francisco Mayor London Breed tweeted that the city's curfew would end at 5 a.m. Thursday.