retail news in context, analysis with attitude

There is a long (4,000 words) and fascinating piece in the Allentown Morning Call about how is dealing with human resources-related issues in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley ... and how those issues are not painting the e-commerce giant in the most charitable light.

An excerpt:

"Its relationship with Amazon has made Integrity Staffing Solutions the biggest temporary-employment firm in the Lehigh Valley and one of the fastest-growing agencies of its kind in the country.

"Part of its role is fighting to keep its workers from collecting unemployment benefits after they have lost a job at Amazon.

"Integrity Staffing Solutions is involved in more unemployment compensation appeal hearings — hundreds per year — than almost all other employers in Pennsylvania, according to a state source with access to the confidential records. It even surpasses Walmart, the state's largest private-sector employer that has more than 50,000 workers in Pennsylvania, the source said.

"In the first nine months of 2012, Integrity Staffing Solutions was involved in more than 200 unemployment compensation appeals, the source said. No other temporary-staffing firm in Pennsylvania comes close to that number.

"The practice reveals one of the ways Amazon keeps costs down and one tactic used by a temporary staffing firm to win Amazon's continued business. Large employers such as Amazon can bid temporary firms against one another, forcing them to look for ways to contain costs, industry experts said.

"The pressure to keep costs down means many who take temporary jobs at an Amazon warehouse hoping it will result in long-term stability and independence instead find themselves jobless and fighting for a public benefit that represents their last financial resort."

Also at issue - the conditions under which these warehouse employees are laboring, which some describe as being oppressive and exploitive.

You can read the entire story here.
KC's View:
Thanks to the MNB reader who brought this story to my attention, suggesting that while Walmart gets a lot of critical press, Amazon gets a measure of it as well.