Last week, I ordered some extra warm fleece-lined slippers to wear around the house. It gets cold around here! I did not consider the torments workers have to go through to keep my toes warm and comfy. They got to suffer through arbitrary, ridiculous rules that benefit the billionaires at the top, but mean they get to work in conditions that Dickens or Kafka might have imagined.
So this rule is incredibly petty, and it kills.
Last week, a man shot and killed eight people at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis. Those people and others working on site couldn’t call or text their families to tell them what was happening because some FedEx employees aren’t allowed to bring their cellphones into work.
An Amazon.com Inc. warehouse collapse on Friday night that killed at least six people has amplified concerns among its blue collar workforce about the return of the internet retailer’s mobile phone ban in work areas.
But why does such a ban even exist? These are workers who are constantly evaluated on their performance already, and that should be all their employer cares about: how many boxes do they move from Shelf A to Truck B during their shift. That’s demanding enough, especially when they also have these rules about how often you can use the bathroom, so why these additional rules that say you can’t even have a cell phone in your pocket? Isn’t it cracking the whip hard enough to say you can’t make personal calls during your shift?
I can’t imagine answering a personal phone call while I’m teaching, but I’ve got one in my pocket (in fact, my university requires me to use my smartphone to enable computers and projectors in my lecture rooms). I turn off the ringer, and if it starts vibrating during class I ignore it — I just know that someone is trying to reach me, and I’ll check the calls when I get a break. That seems sensible and humane, not just for college professors, but for anyone who has a job to do.
So why should Amazon and FedEx have the right to control every second of a worker’s life? Probably because people are desperate enough for work that they’ll take these lousy repressive jobs for $15 an hour, so the company knows they have the power to squeeze.
How much money is Jeff Bezos making again?