Amazon recently told employees at its DCH1 warehouse in Chicago it was closing the facility down. DCH1 has been the site of protests and walkouts. It’s also the home of DCH1 Amazonians United, an advocacy group that has successfully petitioned the company for things like paid time off for part-time workers. According to Motherboard, the company reportedly gave employees two options: they could either take on 10-hour “megacycle” shifts at other facilities, or they could find a new job.
Megacycle shifts are a relatively recent development at Amazon’s delivery stations. They see the company’s warehouse employees work for 10-hours straight in graveyard shifts that usually start in the early hours of the morning and end around lunchtime. Amazon told Motherboard more than half of its last-mile delivery network is already on the model. In moving to the new model, Amazon has also reportedly been phasing out the shorter shifts it offered as an option to its workers previously, a claim the company disputes.
Amazons shutting DCH1 down and transferring us to facilities with the shift 1:20am-11:50am. These facilities are supposedly overstaffed, still HR won’t provide accommodations to people with 2nd jobs or mothers who need to be home in the AM to care for their children/e-learning 😡
— DCH1 Amazonians United (@Dch1United) January 28, 2021
“It is inaccurate that we are only asking associates at DCH1 to change to a single shift type. We offer a wide range of job opportunities at Amazon sites and we are working with each associate directly on the option that best supports them,” Jen Crowcroft, a spokesperson for Amazon, told Engadget. “Our associates are the heart and soul of our operations, and we are happy to continue to offer great, flexible career opportunities in world-class facilities.”
Motherboard suggests Amazon is moving to the megacycle model to save on labor costs since longer shifts allow the company to hire fewer workers, which in turn saves it money on benefits. Amazon contends the model streamlines its operations and provides a longer window for customers to order products. The company is also quick to note the three new facilities where it’s transferring DCH1 workers pay at least $15 per hour and offer comprehensive benefits.
Still, megacycle shifts come with several notable drawbacks for workers. There’s less flexibility than a five or eight-hour shift, and a recent report found injury rates are higher at Amazon warehouses during the holiday season when employees work longer hours in one go.
DCH1 Amazonians United is attempting to challenge the decision. This week, the group started a petition for megacycle shift workers. They’re demanding the company pay those employees an extra $2 per hour, as well as provide accommodations to those workers who can’t work an entire shift because of other obligations. "Amazon's change in delivery station shift schedules is throwing our lives into chaos," the group says in the petition. "They give us two weeks to decide between caring for our family and having a job. This is an unacceptable level of corporate control over our lives."