New York signs onto the Warehouse Worker Protection Act

The legislation could protect workers from unreasonable quotas.

Eduardo Munoz / reuters

After clearing both houses of the New York State Legislature in June, Governor Kathy Hochul has finally signed the Warehouse Worker Protection Act. Broadly modeled after AB-701, the landmark labor law California enacted earlier this year, the legislation aims to protect workers from unreasonable productivity quotas. Under the law, New York State will require major warehouse companies, including Amazon, to provide new hires and current employees with documentation detailing their productivity expectations.

The law also gives workers the right to request their quota at any time, including after their employment ends. Additionally, the legislation prohibits companies from imposing quotas that interfere with a worker’s state-mandated meal and restroom breaks. Companies also cannot fire someone for failing to meet an undisclosed quota.

“Regulations protecting workers in the warehousing industry have lagged far behind its rapid growth until today,” said the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), one of the labor groups that pushed for the legislation. “The RWDSU has long prioritized the challenge of protecting warehouse workers from stress-induced injuries and illness from limitless quotas and it’s why we pushed for the introduction of the Warehouse Worker Protection Act this year.”

As you can imagine, Warehouse Worker Protection Act advocates had Amazon in mind when they campaigned for the bill. The retail giant operates more than 70 facilities across the state, more than half of which have opened since the start of 2021. In 2020, a report from the Center for Investigative Reporting found the company expected workers at its newer and more automated fulfillment centers to meet unrealistic productivity quotas that made them more likely to sustain serious injuries.

Before handing the reins of the retail giant to Andy Jassy in 2021, former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos denied the company had unreasonable productivity quotas. In his final letter to company shareholders, he said Amazon gave workers opportunities to “take informal breaks throughout their shifts,” adding the company “set achievable performance goals that take into account tenure and actual employee performance data.”