U.S. Senators Tina Smith, Ed Markey, Bob Casey Introduce Warehouse Worker Protection Act to Address Dangerous Warehouse Quota Systems

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Senator Bob Casey (D-Pa.), all members of the Senate Labor Committee, introduced the Warehouse Worker Protection Act, legislation that would protect warehouse workers by prohibiting dangerous work speed quotas that lead to high rates of worker injuries. The Senators introduced the legislation alongside workers and union leaders, including Teamsters Vice President Tom Erickson – the first Minnesota Teamster to take international office in over a decade – and Ladell Roberts, an organizer with Teamsters Local 120 in Blaine, MN.

Large companies seek to maximize profits by using quota systems that push workers to their physical limits, resulting in high injury rates that can be permanently disabling. A new report released by the National Employment Law Project (NELP) and other worker groups demonstrates that one in fifteen Amazon workers sustain injuries. Amazon represents 79 percent of large warehouse employment but 86 percent of all injuries. Recent data shows also that more than half of workers reported that their production rate makes it hard for them to use the bathroom at least some of the time.

“When workers have the power to come together and organize for better working conditions and safer workplaces, we all do better. These big companies hold a lot of power, and with their productivity metrics and quotas, they are literally controlling the lives of workers minute by minute,” said Senator Smith. “With this bill, we are saying, enough. We’re putting accountability back in this system and power back in the hands of workers subjected to systems that drive profits for billionaires while they wring workers dry.”

“The Warehouse Worker Protection Act is about dignity, safety, and respect for the workers that make companies run,” said Senator Markey. “When corporations repeatedly use and abuse warehouse workers, they show us that their number one obligation is to their profits. This bill would guarantee that we have basic standards in place to protect warehouse workers from the worst of corporate greed and move us one step further towards true worker justice.”  

“When giant corporations use intrusive surveillance technology to track warehouse productivity, workers usually end up paying the price,” said Senator Casey. “Workers are skipping breaks to meet quotas set by algorithms, putting their own safety and the safety of their colleagues at risk. I have long fought against surveillance and AI technology to manage workers, and this bill is another step to ensure workers have a voice in the workplace to stand up for their own health and safety.” 

“Amazon and other abusive warehouse employers are squeezing their workers for every penny of profit, leaving behind tired and broken bodies,” said Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien. “These corporate criminals are destroying good jobs in an industry that once supported a strong middle class. But one thing stands in their way—that’s the Teamsters Union, along with lawmakers who understand what’s at stake. It’s time to pass the Warehouse Worker Protection Act and put workers’ safety over corporate profits.”

Smith’s legislation includes provisions similar to a bill Minnesota lawmakers recently approved requiring companies that operate warehouse distribution centers like Amazon to inform their employees any work quotas they’re held to, disclose data around their individual productivity and prohibits quotas that prevent workers from skipping meal breaks, bathroom breaks or prayer periods. The bills also authorizes state officials to investigate companies for high injury rates.

The Warehouse Worker Protection Act would prohibit dangerous quotas, including those that rely on constant intrusive surveillance, interfere with workers’ ability to use the bathroom and take guaranteed breaks, violate health and safety laws, or prevent workers from exercising their right to organize. The legislation also creates new transparency requirements for quota systems and directs the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to create an ergonomic management standard for warehouse workers.  

A copy of the legislation can be found HERE.

Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) is an original cosponsor of the bill. A companion bill will be introduced in the House by Reps. Norcross (NJ-01), Stevens (MI-11), Smith (NJ-04), and Lawler (NY-17). The Warehouse Worker Protection Act is endorsed by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the United Food and Commercial Workers, the National Employment Law Project (NELP), the Athena Coalition, and Oxfam America.