Amazon And The Seasonal Worker

Since Amazon opened its warehouse in Jeffersonville, [Indiana], one homeless shelter, Haven House, has been a home to between two and six of its employees at all times, says Barbara Anderson, the shelter’s director.

“The impact is profound. One man was sleeping in a car when he landed his ‘permanent job’ with Amazon,” she says. His good luck didn’t last long. “He lost everything all over again. The jobs are good but the temporary status sets people up for failure.”

More than half of the shelter’s tenants are working poor, according to Anderson. Often times they are either in between jobs or working jobs that pay just enough to make ends meet, but not enough to help them break out of the cycle of homelessness.

The title of this Guardian article is a real kicker: Homeless and working for Amazon: the trap of the seasonal job cycle.

To be fair, Amazon is very upfront that they rely on a seasonal workforce, mostly because: Christmas.

“We recognized 34%, 35%, and 36% of our annual revenue during the fourth quarter of 2013, 2012, and 2011,” read the 2013 annual report. “We employed approximately 117,300 full-time and part-time employees as of 31 December 2013. However, employment levels fluctuate due to seasonal factors affecting our business.”

The rest of the piece is less about Amazon and more about the nature of seasonal employment and negotiating working and living at Haven House, where the weekly rent is $35 but can be waived by five hours of volunteer work (pretty cool).

Photo: Carl Malamud

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