Amazon, which nearly doubled its yearly profit to $21 billion last year and is on track to considerably exceed that number this year, is one of the pandemic’s major economic winners.
The revenues came from the millions of Americans who enjoy the convenience of fast home delivery, but critics say the arrangement comes at a high cost to workers, whom they claim are pushed to physical limits.
The bill, which has been passed by the Assembly in May and is predicted to be voted on by the State Senate this week, would prohibit any quota that prevents employees from taking state-mandated breaks or using the restroom when needed, or that prevents employers from following health and safety regulations.
Because of its large economy and prominence as a tech centre, California plays a significant part in the e-commerce and distribution business, as well as being home to the ports through which much of Amazon’s imported goods comes. East of Los Angeles, the Inland Empire region features one of the country’s biggest concentrations of Amazon fulfilment centres.
Amazon spokeswoman Kelly Nantel declined to comment on the bill, but said in a statement that “performance targets are created based on real employee performance over a period of time” and that they consider the employee’s experience as well as health and safety concerns.
Ms. Michelin, the president of the retailer association, said that the bill’s revisions in the Senate committees had made it more acceptable, and that her members might support a bill that gave regulators more resources to enforce health and safety requirements. However, she expressed grave reservations about the bill’s provision allowing employees to sue their employers.