California lawmakers could force Amazon to change workplace conditions

There are more than 200,000 people employed in California warehouses.

"I needed to see a stable job with stable hours because I am a single mother. So that's how I came about working to work with Amazon," Yesenia Barrera said.

However, only five months later she was terminated from her job due to something called "time off task."

"If you're taking too long doing an item, or if you stop to use the restroom or you stop to get water, you know, that starts to accumulate as what Amazon calls 'time off task,'" Barrera said.

Barrera's concerns have led lawmakers to propose AB 701. The bill, authorized by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez, would require warehouses to disclose quotas and work speed metrics to employees and government agencies.

"It assures that these workers don't get penalized if they need to use the restroom or wash their hands, get a drink of water - what would be considered normal human activity," Gonzalez said.

According to a recent study by a coalition of labor unions, Amazon's 2020 injury rate was 6.5 injuries for every 100 workers, compared to three out of every 100 workers for Walmart. Before the pandemic, Amazon had reached a rate of nine.

Opponents of the bill include Republican Senator Brian Jones, who told Eyewitness news in part: "Worker safety is a high priority for all of us, but AB 701 is a job-killer measure that will also lead to increases in costly lawsuits."

Watch the full report from Anabel Munoz in the video above.
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