Clear It With Sidney

Notes on journalism for the common good, by Lindsay Beyerstein

Amazon Workers Fight for Unemployment Benefits

Sidney Award-winner Spencer Soper chronicles the ongoing struggles of Amazon warehouse workers for The Morning Call:

Months after she suffered heat exhaustion and lost her job in an Amazon.com warehouse in Breinigsville, Rosemarie Fritchman sat in a small conference room pleading for unemployment benefits of about $160 a week.

Opposing her at the hearing before a state referee, who would decide whether Fritchman was eligible for the benefit, was a human resources agent representing her employer.

The testimony of Gwen Golbreski, the human resources representative, was brief and procedural: “She was terminated for attendance,” said Golbreski, who attended multiple hearings involving Amazon warehouse workers that day. “We have a no-fault attendance policy.”

Fritchman, 67, remained poised and gave a detailed account about how she struggled working in brutal heat until medical personnel examined her and told her to go home. Following company policy, she provided a doctor’s note upon returning to work, and she was still terminated without explanation, she said.

A “no fault attendance policy” is the most Orwellian corporate buzzword I’ve heard all day. What a charming way to indicate Amazon accepts no excuses for missing work, not even heat prostration caused by Amazon’s overheated warehouse.

[Photo credit: Soumit, Creative Commons.]