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Amazon warehouse employees overheated ahead of holiday season

September 19, 2011 | 10:15 am

Amazon With the holiday shopping season gearing up, retail employees are preparing to work hard. But probably not as hard as Amazon warehouse workers.

At one of the online shopping giant’s Pennsylvania shipping facilities, employees say they worked in extreme conditions during a “brutal” summer heat wave, according to the Allentown Morning Call.

The heat inside exceeded 100 degrees, leaving workers –- at least one of them pregnant -- lightheaded and unable to breathe, according to the report. In June, 15 employees collapsed in one day.

But with a tight job market, with a long line of applicants ready to take their place, employees said they felt pressured to endure the heat. Several complained of being reprimanded and threatened with termination if they failed to meet productivity targets.

Amazon, they said, kept paramedics parked in ambulances outside for employees suffering from dehydrating or heat stress -– but expected them to cool down and return to work.

The company is now heading into the busy holiday season. During its peak day last year on Nov. 29, Amazon customers worldwide ordered more than 13.7 million items -– or 158 items per second. 

RELATED:

Retailers' holiday hiring plans remain conservative

Ralphs says it will close stores if workers go on strike. Albertsons may follow.

-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo: Paul Sakuma / Associated Press

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