Amazon may have an unrivaled item selection, its packages may arrive at your doorstep on time and its Prime service may have great original programming, but despite all that the online trailer does not treat its workers around the world very well.
Strangely, Amazon is now ordering even temporary warehouse workers to sign non-compete agreements in order to keep them from taking on similar jobs for up to 18 months should they get laid off.
"One way to look at this is as a kind of invidious approach to having workers sign a contract that is very likely to be unenforceable. Knowing that people who have been working for 10 and 11 dollars an hour are not going to be able to hire a lawyer to fight for them later on," Charlotte Garden, law professor at Seattle University School of Law, told The Verge.
These agreements are odd considering they are usually meant to prevent white-collar workers from spilling company secrets. However, It is unknown whether or not Amazon has enforced these non-compete contracts.
Amazon has been under fire recently over the treatment of its warehouse workers in regards to payment issues and efforts to unionize. Warehouse workers in Germany, where Amazon employs almost 10,000 people across nine sites, have gone on strike a few times since 2013. Verdi, a local labor union, has been trying to convince the company to raise the workers’ wages, but Amazon has routinely countered claiming the German warehouses are actually logistics center. In Germany, logistics site workers are paid at a lower rate than those working in distribution centers. Germany is Amazon's largest market besides the U.S.
"We firmly believe direct connection is the most effective way to understand and respond to the needs of our workforce and do not believe there is a need for third-party representation," Mary Osako, Amazon spokeswoman, said, echoing a statement previously made when a Delaware distribution center tried and failed to create a union presence.
A Seattle warehouse also tried to unionize in 2000. That warehouse has since closed.