Amazon forces warehouse workers to sign 18-month non-compete

(James Plafke)  If you can’t wait to quit your warehouse job — marking off the days on a box-themed calendar that you pinned up in a secret box fort you built in the back of the building — then you should get a job working in one of Amazon’s warehouses. The company makes its warehouse workers sign a non-compete that lasts 18 months. Once you leave that job, you’ll not only have your own resolve to prevent going back to another warehouse gig, but you’ll have the law on your side as well. That’s the positive way to look at it, at least.

The contract states that, for 18 months after working at Amazon, warehouse workers cannot work for a company that directly or indirectly supports goods or services for which they previously worked at Amazon. Considering you can get just about anything on Amazon these days (sorry, vape enthusiasts), that’s a wide range of goods and services that are off the table for a year and a half. According to The Verge, the warehouse workers are even required to reaffirm the non-compete in order to receive severance pay.

There’s no question that the warehouse workers are the backbone of Amazon’s shipping operation, and considering Amazon is an online retailer, shipping is the operation. Perhaps Amazon hires the best warehouse workers in the world and the company doesn’t want to lose the secret to its online retail success, or perhaps Amazon has an evil plan of putting enough warehouse workers out of work to hinder the competition. Of course, a non-compete that covers the breadth of industries that Amazon’s covers would also help ensure that the company’s warehouse workers think twice before leaving, as finding work after Amazon could become quite difficult. Unfortunately, the non-compete also extends to temporary employees who don’t have a say in when they leave the company.

This all seems rather rough for Amazon’s warehouse employees, who potentially put themselves at risk for both on-the-job accidents and long-term physical damage — and for comparatively little pay. What’s even worse for these employees is that Amazon seems to be working on a way to replace them with robots — after all, robots can’t flee to a competitor when they’re bolted to the floor. Maybe that’s what will finally cause Judgment Day.