Marta MedinaWith President Barack Obama’s visit to an Amazon fulfillment center in Chattanooga, Tennessee it’s a good time to shed some light on typical warehousing jobs. Here are eight problems in the industry: 

8) What does your paycheck really say? Are workers being paid an hourly wage or are you being paid piece rate? Piece rate means a flat rate for unloading a container of goods. This practice is not inherently illegal unless it amounts to less than minimum wage, which it often does.

7) Are workers paying the company for a ride to work? Some warehousing temp agencies charge workers fees to take them to work and then cram as many as 18 people into one van even though companies "can't charge for transportation" legally, they do.

6) Do you have gloves, flashlights, steel-toed boots? Chances are the temporary staffing agency you work for is not providing the protective gear you need to be safe. Even though companies like Walmart require their contractors to keep workers safe, they often turn a blind eye. Equipment is often broken and injuries are common.

Fallen Stack of Boxes5) Speaking of safety, how about those emergency exits. Are they blocked? They might be.

4) Thirsty? Workers often report an inadequate access to drinking water inside the warehouse. “Lumping,” or loading and unloading heavy boxes of merchandise, is hard labor. If you work in Southern California’s Inland Empire, for example, temperatures often top 100 degrees. Not drinking enough water leads to serious health risks. Denying workers access to water is not only illegal, it’s inhumane.

3) Are you prepared to look for work again soon? More than likely you were hired on a temporary basis, which means you are paid about minimum wage, have no benefits and no jobs security. According to new research by University of Southern California professor Juan D. De Lara the median income for warehouse workers in the logistics industry is $14,500 per year. Temp jobs pay even less:  an average yearly income of $9,255.

2) Women beware. Workers report rampant discrimination if they are pregnant, lesser pay for women and staffing agencies that will only hire men.  New research from University of Southern California professor Juan D. De Lara shows that female warehouse workers earn more than $6,000 per year less than male warehouse workers.

Javier Rodriguez1)  So say you speak about all of this and you try to make your job better? You might just get fired.