- CNN spoke to two business owners who used to run companies delivering packages for Amazon.
- Drivers’ wellbeing plummeted in 2020 due to the number of packages Amazon expected them to deliver, the pair said.
- They sent a letter to Amazon threatening litigation and demanding better working conditions, they said.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
The owners of two companies that delivered packages for Amazon said they threatened to sue the tech giant over drivers’ working conditions, per a CNN report.
Ryan Schmutzer and Tracy Bloemer, two business owners from Portland, Oregon, spoke to CNN about their experiences as Delivery Service Partners (DSPs) for Amazon. DSPs are part of Amazon’s massive delivery network, but their drivers aren’t directly employed by Amazon.
Schmutzer and Bloemer told CNN their drivers’ wellbeing deteriorated after the pandemic hit. This was partly due to the high number of packages Amazon expected drivers to deliver, as well as the tech giant telling drivers to cut the time it took them to collect packages and put them in their vans, the pair said.
Schmutzer told CNN some of his drivers quit mid-shift because the work was so intense.
Schmutzer and Bloemer also told CNN their profits shrank during the pandemic. DSPs are paid per route, and Bloemer told CNN that while her business had been allocated up to 70 daily routes in the past, Amazon cut it down to 40 routes per day in June 2020.
The two business owners asked a lawyer to draft a joint letter to send to Amazon in June of this year, warning they might litigate unless Amazon improved working conditions for drivers, they told CNN. The pair also asked for $US36 ($AU49) million to make up for unspecified losses.
Specifically, they wanted a cap on their drivers’ delivery numbers, at a maximum of 150 stops and 250 packages per day. DSP drivers told Insider in August they were expected to deliver between 170 and 350 packages per shift. Amazon says it works with DSPs to set realistic expectations.
Amazon then terminated its business with Schmutzer and Bloemer, they said.
Amazon didn’t immediately comment on CNN’s report when contacted by Insider. A spokesperson told CNN that Amazon terminated contracts with Schmutzer and Bloemer after they threatened to end their business with it. This threat jeopardized drivers’ livelihoods, the spokesperson said.
“Our goal is to create great partnerships with our Delivery Service Partners and their drivers, and continue to use their feedback to make improvements. A number of impacted drivers have been hired by other DSPs in the area,” the spokesperson said.
On the number of routes, Amazon told CNN that demand varied year to year and by season, and that it worked with DSPs to manage this.
Amazon DSP drivers have previously spoken about how hard they have to work to hit their quotas. In April, Amazon acknowledged it was aware of drivers urinating in bottles in order to stay on schedule.
The drivers are closely monitored by Amazon’s algorithms, and in spring of this year the company installed AI-powered cameras inside delivery vans. Drivers told Motherboard last week that these cameras sometimes penalized them unfairly for things like adjusting the radio, checking their sidemirrors, or getting cut off by someone else on the road.
Amazon said it has seen a reduction in accidents and other safety violations since installing the Netradyne cameras in its delivery vehicles.