Among The Perks For Amazon's Part-Time Workers: Being Homeless

Tyler Durden's picture

Judging by the narrative promoted after last Friday's idiotically connived jobs report, any job is a good job... however, as The Guardian reports, that does not include a job working for Amazon.com. Quarter after quarter, we highlight the growth in Amazon employees (and death-cross-like plunge in annual sales growth). While Amazon makes no secret of the fact that it relies on seasonal work force, what went unsaid and unnoticed during President Obama's visit last year, was that the Amazon 'employees' would not have jobs or prospects after the holidays. Many of the people in those Amazon warehouses were among the long-term unemployed – shuffling from one temporary job to another to another; and due to this unstable employment, a growing number of them have found themselves living in shelters... 'employed' but homeless (or "the working poor" in America).

 

Amazon's death cross... total employees and worldwide revenue growth - (which makes perfect economic sense as the marginal employees costs approaches zero...)

 

As The Guardian reports, working away in warehouses, beyond the pages of Amazon's website, the seasonal workers and the effects that temporary contracts have on their lives are kept out of public's eye and often avoid scrutiny.

Andrew Cummins, 43, was one of these elves last year, working north of Chattanooga at an Amazon warehouse in Jeffersonville, Indiana. For three months, he stowed away clothes, working 40 hours a week at $10 an hour. He enjoyed the job and saw it as his ticket out of the Haven House, a shelter where he lives with his wife, Kristen, and stepson.

 

"They had this big hype that they were going to hire on and stuff and that didn't happen. They just worked you until the time was up and then they let everyone go," he says. According to him, about 50 other seasonal workers like him who were hired through Integrity Staffing Solutions – a staffing agency working with Amazon in Jeffersonville – were let go at the same time. "They just said they would email everybody that they let go but we never heard anything back. And then you can't apply for [another Amazon job] for another year after you worked for them."

Which brings us to the new normal in America - The Working Poor

The underlying situation at the Chattanooga facility belied the president's speech. He spoke about the recession, noting that "it cost millions of Americans their jobs and their homes and their savings." He spoke of the long-term unemployed and their struggles in finding a job. He spoke of the great job that Amazon and Jeff Bezos were doing taking care of their employees.

 

Since Amazon opened its warehouse in Jeffersonville, 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.

 

With lack of subsidized housing affordable at their level of income, they are stuck. They have no one to co-sign an apartment for them and no way to save up for a security deposit, much less the first and last months' rent that many landlords now require before one moves in.

 

“When you live in a shelter, the first thing you want to do is get out,” says Anderson. People often view their first paycheck as ticket out, but as soon as they lose that job, they are back at the shelter. “They get that first paycheck and they are gone. Then four to six weeks later, I see them again. They leave too early.”

And The Working Poor are banking on warmer weather...

For Tim, the job at Amazon is just a short-term solution. "I can't live on $10 an hour," he says, adding. "If I am at Amazon longer than a month, I'd be very disappointed frankly."

 

It's his hope that warmer weather will bring better news. "Temporary or contract jobs are going to pick up, because employers are still a little skittish about bringing on permanent employees and so to keep the costs down, they are going to increase their contracting levels. That's what I am counting on," says Tim.

Sadly... the "working poor" is all too common...

There are about 3.5 million Americans who have been out of a job for longer than six months, according to the most recent unemployment report.

 

Only one in 10 of them is likely to find stable employment down the road, according to Brookings Institute. While some give up looking altogether, those who keep looking are often only able to find part-time, sporadic employments.

It seems, just as we made all too clear previously, that work is indeed being punished in America...

This is graphically, and very painfully confirmed, in the below chart from Gary Alexander, Secretary of Public Welfare, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (a state best known for its broke capital Harrisburg). As quantitied, and explained by Alexander, "the single mom is better off earnings gross income of $29,000 with $57,327 in net income & benefits than to earn gross income of $69,000 with net income and benefits of $57,045."

We realize that this is a painful topic in a country in which the issue of welfare benefits, and cutting (or not) the spending side of the fiscal cliff, have become the two most sensitive social topics. Alas, none of that changes the matrix of incentives for most Americans who find themselves in a comparable situation: either being on the left side of minimum US wage, and relying on benefits, or move to the right side at far greater personal investment of work, and energy, and... have the same disposable income at the end of the day.

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So Close's picture

Passing through the, "profit."

The Alarmist's picture

Homeless?  How can you be homeless when you have access to all sorts of cardboard boxes?

fonzannoon's picture

No different at disney land, meanwhile it costs $500 for a family of 4 to get into the fucking park.

http://news.yahoo.com/disneys-shadow-homeless-families-struggle-04153717...

chumbawamba's picture

Can we stop making light of this and actually acknowledge that people are hurting, suffering?

What are you going to do to end this absolute madness?

I am Chumbawamba.

fonzannoon's picture

I am not making fun of it. I actually went there back in October with a few families. I went out one night with a buddy and we hit the bar after the kids went to bed. the bartenders were a few early 30's chicks. they used to be the snow white's etc there. they told some war stories about how it was 100 degrees under the costume's etc. so that is how i kind of pictured it. kids working there making a few bucks and having fun. i never figured it was homeless parents working there. i'm horrified that i spent the amount of money i did and they pay slave labor wages to homeless parents.

until the private workforce demands the same salaries/perks as government workers, nothing changes.

chumbawamba's picture

Not "you" you but "you" all of us.

What the fuck is going on here?  This is god damn madness.  We are paying our energy to the very people who steal it, and leave our brother and sister poorer for our effort.

We should pay our energy to those around us so that it is returned in kind and together we prosper.

Do you understand?  Think about those around you directly.  Make your contribution and impact within the first fifty feet of you.

You are Chumbawamba.

fonzannoon's picture

I appreciate the sentiment. but it's over man. it won't be fixed. but i agree that you may as well make a difference around you as best you can in the meantime.

Grande Tetons's picture

An old lesson from my 4H days....never fall in love with your calf...because one day....you know. 

willwork4food's picture

It's not over fonz, the very idea that you suggested will change society in the future. The darkside is beginning to eat themselves.

fonzannoon's picture

willwork4food..here is a message that I got from someone I speak to offline that got banned from here a while back.

"In the last 10 years, the number of industrial robots is up 72%, while the number of US manufacturing jobs is down 16%."

Corporate America is done with the middle class. They have only the politicians now but they dont realize it yet. 60 years ago we reached the peak and end of the industrial revolution- at that time workers were very important to making this current new age happen and they had a lot of bargaining power on how much to get paid from the 1% in order to create the robot class that would replace them soon enough. And then about 30 years ago we created the service economy as a gentle way of absorbing all these people in a way that was convenient for everyone while the robots did all the backbreaking labor. 2008 was the end of the service economy era because from now on we are gearing up for robots to be doing even those jobs. 

And everyone is attached to the idea that they have some kind of bargaining power with society on how much their labor is worth but in reality its only those whose jobs can probably never be done by robots. Corporate america is done with it though, the service economy handout is over. There is not going to be anything else, corporate america has is no longer a holistic part of society which people give to and take from, it is now a separate entity staffed by a small ownership/manager/innovator class of society to meet the consumer needs of the welfare class. So people are on their own and all they have is their meaningless vote. If only they knew they had the all the bargaining power in the world because their faith in their FRNs is what keeps the world turning. Imagine what leverage that is...

Uber Vandal's picture

At the last manufacturing occupation I had, when I started, a cell of 5 people would produce 5000 products in 12 hours in a good night. When the facilty closed its doors and moved its production to a "low cost country" (guess which one), a cell of 2 people would produce 14000 products in 8 hours in a good night with heavy automation.

At its peak, that facilty ran 24-7 with about 400 employees. At the end, it had about 40 left, running 3 shifts with heavy automation, and it still did not matter to the bean counters.

It also embraced lean principles, JIT, MRP, and they also began to focus more on brand / image.

The products made in the low cost country do not cost any less than when they were made in the US either.

fattail's picture

Read "The Second Machine Age".  The head of Foxconn is replacing cheap Chinese labor with automation.  There is a $20,000 strawberry picker in the works.  I worry about my kids and their prospects in a world where the marginal cost of labor keeps going down.  I used to think that the rich world always need the poor to tend their gardens and clean their toilets but an army of artificial intelligence powered robots can do that. And if they can't get a robot to do it, the cut throat competition for the last few scraps will keep those not in the club bidding and under bidding each other.

 

I fear the only alternative for these useless eaters is a war to cull the population and save the planet.  I am afraid I am not in the club.

MeelionDollerBogus's picture

Soon enough they'll find out the fuel + maintenance + updating programming for the machines + repairs is in fact far more expensive than easily replaced cheap labour. That worker-force can find their own food, heal from injury & make babies to replace them.
Robots do one of this.

Ben Dover's picture

Temps are the new Okies. A bunch of us are just hanging on doing what we do. Some are succeeding, and a good deal of them were born on third and thinking they got a triple. If we are going to make it we have to help one another and give what we can spare.

MeelionDollerBogus's picture

the loss of jobs to cheaper human workers far, far exceeds the loss of jobs to robots.
Robots are frequently doing work no human can do, in dangerous environments, or producing so much of one thing that many humans can be employed to assemble complex parts that are pre-assembled by robots in smaller units, quality-check them, sell them, etc.
The problem here isn't robots, it's population. Too many babies must at all times mean too few jobs or too few wages. It's mandatory: no free lunch.

Grande Tetons's picture

Chumba, 

I try to practice what you are preaching everyday. 

Great post. 

 

sessinpo's picture

chumbawamba           Not "you" you but "you" all of us.

What the fuck is going on here?  This is god damn madness.  We are paying our energy to the very people who steal it, and leave our brother and sister poorer for our effort.

---

So you come here and bitch to those that are productive and are fighting a rigged system to end this madness? You are preaching to the choir. In order to end this madness, it is the those that steal it that need to be turned. And that includes many of those on government subsidies, draining the productive. Otherwise, the only answer is a reset which I think is the most probable because no one can reach those that steal. They have no morals, thus they don't care. They will get there's on our backs while they can.

A Nanny Moose's picture

using government "worker's" wages as the yard stick...Really?

fonzannoon's picture

if you want to shoot for bankers wages i am all for it. 

Dr. Sandi's picture

Or, if you want to shoot bankers for wages, I'm all for that too!

I'm just not sure where you collect the paycheck when the job is done.

MeelionDollerBogus's picture

Demand? Hostages don't get to make demands. That's not how it works.
In fact, that's what gets more people to be homeless.
You get what you want by making sure no one else has a choice. If you make a 'demand' you get the boot.

Chuck Walla's picture

They are sufffering by design and by the people they elected. How come that minimum wage isn't holding people up? Or is it that it never, evr could or was going to? And yet these idiots scream and cheer raising the very wage that kills them.

 

 

Ein Volk!  Ein Barack!  Ein Reich!

 

 

MeelionDollerBogus's picture

End it? This is just the beginning. When all's finished there will be crystal and gold palaces for the overlords and gigantic megafields of GMO-crops producing Fuud(tm) & drugs in the same fields, with all left-over husks & roots being turned into "beds" to sleep outside on the fields for the slave-class.
The way things look now is practically mouth-watering luxury compared to what's coming.

Brought to you my Brawndo, Carl's Jr. & world Agri-Pharma-BanksterCorp CEO, Sauron.

WillyGroper's picture

Someone has to pay for the Disney RoboCall Soliciting I get repeatedly.

freewolf7's picture

I'm looking forward to Amazon delivering my drone with a drone.

CheapBastard's picture

Maybe those hobos are hiding their profits offshore....

oh, wait a sec.....

zaphod's picture

That welfare cliff chart needs to be updated for the Obamacare $24K/yr tax that is placed on families after they start to make just a little bit of money. It will look much worse....

Youri Carma's picture

I am truly astounded at the amount of thumbs up this very cynical inhuman comment gets but it tells a lot about the American mindset.

And that's exactly the reason the country is going down like it is. Stab the poor https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NY3yzLA-g24

Happy dieing Yanks, because when you get in that situation soon people will do the same to you.

Berspankme's picture

It's much more important to blow another housing bubble. Fuck You Bernanke. One day I will piss on your grave

A Lunatic's picture

A homeless housing bubble to go with the jobless recovery.

Very Bullish.........

McMolotov's picture

Death crosses all over the place.

Tinky's picture

On the bright side, when I use my Amazon Prime™ account to get free shipping, they actually deliver to my "14th and Bowery, third stoop" address!

Dr. Destructo's picture

Coming soon: Shantytowns with old schoolbuses transporting the hopeless to their meager jobs.

i_call_you_my_base's picture

No, see, they will be living in shipping containers, because...innovation, the environment, and they are just plain awesome! They definitely aren't a recycled mobile home!

Dr. Destructo's picture

http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/homeless-to-live-in-shipping-containers/6...

That will be the new upper middle class - at £150 a week the rent on those are killer.

Parrotile's picture

Don't knock'em until you have tried them (been there in 2008) - http://www.tempohousing.com/projects/keetwonen.html 

As the article says, comfortable, quiet, pretty spacious, and (for the two of us) great Conference accommodation.

This is the "entry level" end of container living. If you want luxury, it's certainly available - http://io9.com/the-greatest-homes-made-from-shipping-containers-around-453393451 

Dr. Destructo's picture

I'm definitely not knocking them, as I would definitely live in a repurposed (or even a vanilla) container. I was merely calling attention that the low today will be the upper tomorrow.

willwork4food's picture

+10 Parro! That's something I've had in the back of my mind for years after seeing the cubicles in Toyko Japan. Absolutely a kick ass idea.

TammanyBrawl's picture

The Foxxcon model goes global!

Work in our factory, live in our barracks, shop at the company store!

yield_curver's picture

This truly is The Great Recovery.

TheMerryPrankster's picture

Great Recovery, Great Depression

these words don't mean what they used to.Ongoing recovery means continuing Depression, Surprising Numbers, means Oh Shit how do we hide this.

Most transparent administration in History, means we will spy on everything you do and hide everything we do.

Affordable care act means $$$$$$$

I can't decide if they are trying to destroy language so we can no longer effectively communicate among ourselves or they really think we are stupid enough enough to beleive the bullshit they push out of the bullhorn everyday.

Amazon can't make a profit but its a great business model for the future, what the fuck does that say about the future?

sangell's picture

Realistically, since temporary warehouse workers have good access to packaging material, is for shippers to give them cardboard and bubblewrap ( for insulation) and those plastic wrap machines they use to package pallet loads to waterproof their shelters and put some showers and latrines on their property and allow their temporary employees to live on site out in back. A plastic and bubble wrapped cardboard shelter would take up little room and how much would a few temporary toilets and a camping shower cost? Probably less than they pay the temp agency. Amazon and other companies would then have an on site work force they could utilitize year round.

ghengis86's picture

I've got three temps starting in assembly tomorrow. They get $11/hr, we pay the temp agency ~$16/hr. after a couple weeks of catch up work, we'll send two home and might keep one. Or not. After 90 days I can hire them full time and pay more like $20/he in total benefits or keep them thru the agency or get another fresh set of temps.

We did find a gem through the temp agency that's turned into a real winner. But that's rare. Usually they have problems, but its a low skill job and only attracts said worker.

In R&D we had a chick with two masters applying for an entry level, technician at $30k/year! Probably couldn't pay her student loans and live outside of a box.

Shits all fucked because of the debasement of our currency and the "free trade" that's managed to export all our productive jobs, along with our inflation. Also, the FSA and subsidizing stupidity (welfare) creates a generation of workers who have come to their own conclusion -no fancy studies or graphs required - that they are better off being lazy than working hard for their middle-class bondage.

What a hollow shell this country has become. Whomever it was that posted the comment about their old man being dead before the cancer killed his body was spot on.

drendebe10's picture

I was recently looking for a front office position and two people we interviewed told us they made more money on unemployment and left.

ghengis86's picture

For real. After our Jan 1st insurance premium hike of 25%+ (fuck you very much Soetoro, Pelosi, Boner, Roberts, et al) there are several employees that take home <50% of their earnings due to taxes, insurance, etc.

Dr. Sandi's picture

Just not for very long.