Minnesota lawmakers bolster quota protections for warehouse workers
Minnesota lawmakers have passed a bill that would provide more protection for warehouse workers who have to meet productivity quotas, a move aimed at helping employees at companies like Amazon.
The protections were included in a broader omnibus bill passed 34-33 on Tuesday evening by the Minnesota Senate. The House passed the bill 70-61.
Under the bill, employers are required to provide each warehouse worker with a written description of any quotas, including details about how their work is measured and any action that might result in case they fail to meet quotas.
The bill prohibits companies from firing or taking any adverse actions against an employee for failing to meet a quota that has not been disclosed to them. It also says companies can’t implement productivity quotas that prevent workers from taking breaks, and allows the state to open an investigation if a company has an injury rate 30% or higher compared to its peers.
The bill mirrors similar laws passed in recent years in New York and California that attempt to regulate how Amazon surveys workers in its vast number of warehouses. Injuries at Amazon facilities have typically been higher compared to its peers in the industry. Critics and labor safety experts often blame the company’s fast-paced warehouses for that problem.
Amazon said in a recent report it recorded a 6.7% rate of injuries and illnesses per 200,000 working hours across its U.S. operations last year. That's a dip from 7.6% in 2021, but slightly higher than 6.5% in 2020. Amazon CEO Andy Jassy has said the company was trying to improve warehouse safety.
Amazon has said it doesn't have fixed quotas, but has “performance expectations” for workers based on how their peers perform at particular sites.
“While we agree with the goals of this bill, this legislation is based on a misunderstanding of our business performance metrics,” Amazon spokesperson Maureen Lynch Vogel said in a prepared statement. Vogel said the company assesses performance “based on safe and achievable expectations and take into account time and tenure, peer performance, and adherence to safe work practices.”
The Minnesota bill allows current or former employees to bring a civil suit against companies who violated the new rules. Democratic Gov. Tim Walz is expected to sign the bill.