California bill takes aim at Amazon’s productivity-tracking algorithms

California is set to pass a bill that would rescind the productivity measurement algorithms that are allegedly being used in Amazon fulfillment centers. This was reported recently by NPRs Morning Edition, and The New York Times. California's lower legislative chamber passed the bill in May. The upper chamber will vote on it next week. The bill, if passed, would establish new transparency requirements for automated quota system and ban any such systems that could threaten the safety and health of workers.
Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), introduced the bill in July. She cited Verge reports that hundreds of Amazon warehouse workers had been fired after failing to meet productivity targets at one facility in Baltimore in less than a year. The Associated documents revealed a highly automated system for tracking individual employee productivity rates.

This is not the future of work.

Amazon and other corporations have made it possible for warehouse workers to work faster, serve more customers in record time, and put their bodies at risk in order to make next-day delivery possible. Assemblywoman Gonzalez stated this in a statement that introduced the bill. Workers should not be forced to sacrifice basic human rights or work in such unjustified conditions to earn a paycheck. This is not the future of work.

Amazon has not yet publicly stated its position on the bill and did not respond immediately to The Verge's request for comment.

Gonzalez's bill doesn't name Amazon. It simply requires warehouse employers in California to provide workers with details about any quota they used to measure them. Employees can request a written description detailing each quota they are subject to, along with the number of tasks or materials that must be produced or processed within the specified time frame. Also, any adverse employment actions that may result from not meeting the quota.

This bill would also prevent any quota system from preventing meal and rest breaks or the use of the toilet.

After the high-profile battle over reports that Amazon's delivery drivers were forced to use bottles on the job, bathroom breaks have become a problem for the company. Amazon initially denied the reports. This led to dozens of drivers sharing their experiences with having to use the bathroom while driving. Delivery drivers are not subject to the Gonzalez bill, so most of the concern about bathroom breaks is focused on them.