posted at 19:50
Author: T.L. Stanley
Amazons secret to getting through the holidays: Seniors doing manual labor
Amazon, which recently fell behind Alibaba to become the world's second-largest e-commerce company, is in the throes of its annual temporary seasonal worker program that includes a few thousand graying retirees in its giant warehouse facilities around the U.S. The employees live full-time in recreational vehicles, following mostly low-paying, strenuous jobs around the country instead of enjoying those golden years on the golf course. Amazon calls them CamperForce and spends significant amounts of time and energy recruiting them at RV shows and through online advertising that sells the work as, "Your next adventure," that will bring together "a community of enthusiastic RV'ers who help make the holidays bright" for online shoppers. They're too busy being grateful for the work, Bruder said. Amazon, which recently posted its biggest quarterly net loss in more than a decade and saw its stock price battered, pays its seasonal workers between $10 and $12.25 an hour, with overtime and bonuses. Some workers have been much less diplomatic than the Osbornes on blogs like Gawker, which is running a series of stories about harsh working conditions and the "Soul-crushing experience" at Amazon's warehouses. Criticism of the seasonal work can be expected when many of the employees live a hand-to-mouth existence doing rote assembly line-style jobs. Even Amazon calls its training, "Work hardening," which Bruder thinks is "a bizarrely blunt way to describe what's happening." The elderly Amazon employees take real pride in their work, Bruder said, and feel like it imbues them with a sense of purpose.

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