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Aurialie Jublin

The Day I Drove for Amazon Flex - The Atlantic - 0 views

  • But Flex operates year-round, not just during the holiday season, which suggests there’s another reason for it: It’s cheap. As the larger trucking industry has discovered over the past decade, using independent contractors rather than unionized drivers saves money, because so many expenses are borne by the drivers, rather than the company.
  • The company doesn’t share information about how many drivers it has, but one Seattle economist calculated that 11,262 individuals drove for Flex in California between October 2016 and March 2017, based on information Amazon shared with him to help the company defend a lawsuit about Flex drivers.
  • “A lot of these gig-type services essentially rely on people not doing the math on what it actually costs you,”
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  • One Amazon Flex driver in Cleveland, Chris Miller, 63, told me that though he makes $18 an hour, he spends about 40 cents per mile he drives on expenses like gas and car repairs. He bought his car, used, with 40,000 miles on it. It now has 140,000, after driving for Flex for seven months, and Uber and Lyft before that. That means he’s incurred about $40,000 in expenses—things he didn’t think about initially, like changing the oil more frequently and replacing headlights and taillights. He made slightly less than $10 an hour driving for Uber, he told me, once he factored in these expenses; Flex pays a bit better.
  • If the driver gets into a car accident, the driver, not Amazon, is responsible for medical and insurance costs. If a driver gets a speeding ticket, the driver pays. (UPS and FedEx usually pay their trucks’ tickets, but Amazon explicitly says in the contract Flex drivers sign that drivers are responsible for fees and fines­.)
  • Brown likes to work two shifts delivering groceries for Amazon, from 4:30 to 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 to 8:30 a.m., but the morning we talked, no 4:30 shifts were available. He sometimes wakes up at 3 a.m. and does what Flex workers call the “sip and tap,” sitting at home and drinking coffee while refreshing the app, hoping new blocks come up. He does not get paid for the hour he spends tapping. Twice in the last year, he’s been barred from seeing new blocks for seven days because Amazon accused him of using a bot to grab blocks—he says he just taps the app so frequently Amazon assumes he’s cheating.
  • Akunts said that people often get “deactivated,” which means they receive a message telling them they can no longer drive for Flex. Sometimes, the workers don’t know why they’ve been terminated and their contract annulled, he told me. It can take as long as a month to get reinstated.
  • But lots of people risk it and park illegally in meters, he told me—the number of parking citations issued in the first three months of the year for people parking illegally at red and yellow meters grew 29 percent from 2016, according to data provided to me by the city.
  • And then there was the fact that the Flex technology itself was difficult to use. Flex workers are supposed to scan each package before they deliver it, but the app wouldn’t accept my scans. When I called support, unsure of what to do, I received a recorded messaging saying support was experiencing technical difficulties, but would be up again soon. Then I got a message on my phone telling me the current average wait time for support was “less than 114,767 minutes.” I ended up just handing the packages to people in the offices without scanning them, hoping that someone, somewhere, was tracking where they went.
  • Technology was making their jobs better—they worked in offices that provided free food and drinks, and they received good salaries, benefits, and stock options. They could click a button and use Amazon to get whatever they wanted delivered to their offices—I brought 16 packages for 13 people to one office; one was so light I was sure it was a pack of gum, another felt like a bug-spray container.
  • But now, technology was enabling Amazon to hire me to deliver these packages with no benefits or perks. If one of these workers put the wrong address on the package, they would get a refund, while I was scurrying around trying to figure out what they meant when they listed their address as “fifth floor” and there was no fifth floor. How could these two different types of jobs exist in the same economy?
  • Gig-economy jobs like this one are becoming more and more common. The number of “non-employer firms” in the ground-transportation sector—essentially freelancers providing rides through various platforms—grew 69 percent from 2010 to 2014, the most recent year for which there is data available, according to a Brookings analysis of Census Bureau and Moody’s data.
  • “We’re going to take the billion hours Americans spend driving to stores and taking things off shelves, and we’re going to turn it into jobs,” Viscelli said. “The fundamental question is really what the quality of these jobs is going to be.”
  • Liss-Riordan says one of the biggest obstacles in getting workers to take legal action over their classification is that many Flex workers agree, upon signing up to deliver packages, to resolve disputes with Amazon through arbitration. Companies can now use arbitration clauses to prevent workers from joining together to file class-action lawsuits, because of a May Supreme Court ruling.
  • Even weeks after I’d stopped driving for Flex, I kept getting new notifications from Amazon, telling me that increased rates were available, tempting me to log back in and make a few extra bucks, making me feel guilty for not opening the app, even though I have another job.
  • My tech-economy experience was far less lucrative. In total, I drove about 40 miles (not counting the 26 miles I had to drive between the warehouse and my apartment). I was paid $70, but had $20 in expenses, based on the IRS mileage standards. I had narrowly avoided a $110 parking ticket, which felt like a win, but my earnings, added up, were $13.33 an hour. That’s less than San Francisco’s $14 minimum wage.
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    "Amazon Flex allows drivers to get paid to deliver packages from their own vehicles. But is it a good deal for workers?"
Aurialie Jublin

Salariés robots ? Amazon veut équiper ses employés d'un bracelet électronique... - 0 views

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    Ce système de traçage des mouvements des mains d'un employé "pourrait être utilisé pour surveiller la réalisation de tâches assignées" comme l'inventaire et la préparation des commandes, expliquent les documents officiels relatifs à ce brevet, révèle le site spécialisé Geekwire. Si un employé place ses mains au mauvais endroit, ou qu'il attrape le mauvais colis au moment de la collecte dans les entrepôts, le bracelet pourra émettre des vibrations. Un moyen de guider, mais aussi de surveiller les mouvements des salariés. Le dispositif pourrait aussi permettre de surveiller la durée des pauses prises par les employés.
Aurialie Jublin

Startup Expensify's "smart" scanning technology used humans hired on Amazon Mechanical ... - 0 views

  • The line between automation and humans blurs more often than Silicon Valley might like to admit. Facebook hired thousands of people this year to moderate content on its social network, after algorithms repeatedly failed to do the job. Uber depends on more than 2 million drivers worldwide to provide rides every day, as well as employees at headquarters to make sure enough of those drivers are on the road. Behind much of Google’s digitization of books and maps is random people on the internet, conscripted using reCaptcha. Expensify is just another example.
  • The receipts on Mechanical Turk belonged to “less than 0.00004% of users—none of whom are paying customers,” Barrett said, adding that, at any rate, there is nothing important on a receipt, “that’s why receipts are so commonly thrown out—because they are literally garbage.” Also: “anybody concerned by the real-world risks of a vetted, tested transcriptionist reading their Uber receipt should probably consider the vastly more immediate and life-threatening consequences of getting into that stranger’s car in the first place.”
Aurialie Jublin

On the Road with the 'Workampers,' Amazon's Retirement-Age Mobile Workforce - VICE - 0 views

  • Workampers" are mostly retirement-age migrant workers who have taken to the road in RVs and camper vans in pursuit of temporary jobs to make ends meet. Just like their truly retired counterparts, these workers travel the country, sightseeing and staying overnight in RV parks. But many workampers also depend on low-wage temp jobs like overseeing campgrounds, selling tickets at NASCAR races, or—as in LaFata's case—spending long nights packing boxes for the planet's largest e-commerce corporation.
  • Although workampers' schedules can be grueling, they are quick to express appreciation for the community and sense of belonging that their migratory life offers them. The workers at Buckeye not only lived and worked together but formed close bonds and shared a fierce camaraderie. With much help from her workamper neighbors, LaFata recently moved into a rented mobile home while she makes several much-needed repairs on her van. Advertisement
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    "These workers travel the country, sightseeing and staying overnight in RV parks while laboring in low-wage temp jobs-and at least some of them love the lifestyle."
Aurialie Jublin

Full memo: Jeff Bezos responds to brutal NYT story, says it doesn't represent the ... - 0 views

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    The cruel and back-stabbing environment described by The New York Timesin a report this weekend on the workplace culture at Amazon.com has struck a nerve with Jeff Bezos. In a memo to employees this weekend, obtained by GeekWire, Bezos says he doesn't recognize the company described in the article. In the memo, Bezos encourages Amazon employees to read the report, and requests that anyone seeing the type of abusive culture described in the piece should report it immediately to human resources or directly to him.
Aurialie Jublin

Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace - NYTimes.com - 0 views

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    "Amazon may be singular but perhaps not quite as peculiar as it claims. It has just been quicker in responding to changes that the rest of the work world is now experiencing: data that allows individual performance to be measured continuously, come-and-go relationships between employers and employees, and global competition in which empires rise and fall overnight. Amazon is in the vanguard of where technology wants to take the modern office: more nimble and more productive, but harsher and less forgiving."
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    Une perspective intéressante dans un article de GigaOm. Il y est indiqué que chez Amazon, les "cols blancs" reçoivent tout simplement le même traitement que les "cols bleus". "Don't be surprised at how Amazon treats its workers" https://gigaom.com/2015/08/18/dont-be-surprised-at-how-amazon-treats-its-workers/
Aurialie Jublin

Amazon, Uber: le travail en miettes et l'économie du partage des restes | Sla... - 1 views

  • Dans un contexte de pénurie d’emploi, les services qui permettent à des jeunes, des étudiants, des retraités, des femmes au foyer, des chômeurs de trouver un petit revenu peuvent constituer, faute de mieux, un rempart contre la pauvreté. Cette «fonction sociale» est d'ailleurs toujours mise en avant par ces entreprises de mise en relation entre offreurs et demandeurs. 
  • Au rayon des semi-bonnes nouvelles, l’entreprise Instacart, un service de shopping en ligne sur le modèle de la mise en relation d’un client et d’un «picker» qui fait les courses et les livre, vient d’annoncer que ses contractants indépendants seraient désormais salariés de l’entreprise: elle a invoqué pour expliquer sa décision le besoin de former et de superviser ces derniers, ce qui n’était pas compatible avec leur statut d’indépendants.
  • En revanche, on ne voit guère de propositions de rupture ni de résistance ferme face à ce système injuste qui accumule des fortunes colossales tout en imposant de nouvelles règles du jeu anti-sociales et irresponsables. Après le processus d’évolution historique vers une sécurité accrue des travailleurs, mouvement d’amélioration quasi-continu des conditions de travail et des rémunérations, le retournement serait en marche, nous faisant risquer collectivement de revenir à des régulations du travail régressives: travail à la tâche, «au jour la journée», avec quelques guildes de travailleurs en guise de contre-pouvoir et de force de négociation vis-à-vis des plateformes. Et on peine à voir ce qu'il y a de si enthousiasmant dans ce modèle.
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    "Attention à ne pas trop s'enflammer pour les nouvelles formes de micro-travail ou de travail semi-amateur qu'essaient de généraliser les entreprises du secteur numérique."
Aurialie Jublin

Amazon Is Building An App To Let Normal People Deliver Packages For Pay - 0 views

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    Amazon is apparently enlisting everyday humans in its network of endless online shopping delivery. The WSJ reports that the ecommerce giant is working on an app internally that would allow the average consumer to make a little cash by picking up Amazon packages at various retail locations and dropping them off at their final destination.
Aurialie Jublin

Amazon : des robots révolutionnent le travail dans les entrepots - 0 views

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    En déployant des robots dans ses entrepôts, Amazon espère gagner en immédiateté et réaliser des économies annuelles de plusieurs millions de dollars
Aurialie Jublin

Le Turc mécanique d'Amazon - France Culture - 0 views

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    "C'est qui est le plus fascinant là-dedans, c'est qu'on est à la fois dans une forme de travail hyper-contemporaine (son côté mondialisé, organisée par des algorithmes) et une forme très ancienne, qui rappelle les « calculateurs humains », ces gens qui, avant les ordinateurs, effectuaient des morceaux de calculs qui étaient assemblés pour réaliser des opérations complexes (on a beaucoup utilisé de calculateurs humains, et notamment des femmes sous payées, dans le projet Manhattan, qui a abouti à la création de la première bombe atomique). Les ordinateurs ont fait disparaître les « calculateurs humains », mais ils ont fait apparaître une autre forme d'exploitation totalement invisible, cachée dans l'antre des machines. Ce n'est pas l'usine, mais c'est guère plus désirable."
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