By Serran Soledad
In the City of Industry, an almost entirely industrial town in east Los Angeles County, the FedEx Ground Hub is putting package handlers through work conditions that leave them injured on a near-daily basis.
Workers sometimes finish the day with bloody hands, others have fallen into the belly of trailers and blown out their knee caps, and some have even have thrown up from the level of exhaustion they experience. “I’ve never been at a place where I’ve seen so many very serious injuries,” a worker told Tribune.
The hub acts as a shipping service facility for the well-known delivery company FedEx Ground, which has 39 hubs across the US employing 225,000 workers with an annual revenue of $22.7 billion.
Package handlers are paid $18 an hour on average—despite receiving wages above the minimum, the pay is not an adequate exchange for the heavy workload and dangerous conditions workers are forced to endure.
“For the amount of stuff I’m enduring, I would say we should have better conditions and still a better pay rate,” the worker asserted. “I’m just working [here] because I’m in a situation where I need to work. I need to make a paycheck in order to stay alive.”
Package handlers are expected to quickly load boxes (sometimes weighing over 100 pounds) into trailers. Workers are often forced to break safety protocol to meet productivity expectations.
The worker explained: “The way [FedEx] puts it is like a catch 22 situation. I’m trying to work as fast as possible or else I get a write up, and I’m also trying to work as safe as possible or else I get a write up. Those two things conflict at times.”
It’s a regular occurrence for boxes to pile so high that they topple over and injure workers. When injuries occur management either attempts to brush it off or blame package handlers who are instructed to continue working.
Package handlers are regularly monitored with camera and audio surveillance, used to keep track of productivity and record anything that may go against FedEx’s interest. The company is also open with its employees about monitoring their activity outside the workplace and on social media.