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Amazon is going above below and beyond in its quest for cheap labor in its warehouses. Not content merely with hiring temps to work in appalling conditions for low pay, pressuring them not to report injuries that might lead to OSHA looking into conditions in the warehouses, then firing them when they're too injured to keep up, the online retail giant is getting many of its temps from Integrity Staffing Solutions, a staffing agency that aggressively tries to keep former workers from collecting unemployment insurance benefits.

Since the payroll tax rate employers pay for unemployment insurance is higher for companies with more former employees who go on to collect unemployment, getting claims rejected could mean millions of dollars a year in extra profit for Integrity Staffing Solutions. And it goes after that money, hard:

Integrity Staffing Solutions is involved in more unemployment compensation appeal hearings—hundreds per year—than almost all other employers in Pennsylvania, according to a state source with access to the confidential records. It even surpasses Walmart, the state's largest private-sector employer that has more than 50,000 workers in Pennsylvania, the source said.

In the first nine months of 2012, Integrity Staffing Solutions was involved in more than 200 unemployment compensation appeals, the source said. No other temporary-staffing firm in Pennsylvania comes close to that number.

The Allentown Morning Call's Spencer Soper continues his stellar work on conditions in Amazon's Lehigh Valley warehouses, sitting in on appeals hearings at which Integrity Staffing Solutions contested unemployment benefits for former workers. While it wasn't necessarily unreasonable for the staffing agency to contest every case, there were also cases like that of Rosemarie Fritchman, 67, who, in Integrity Staffing Solutions' telling was fired for missing several days of work. Fritchman did miss work—because she suffered from heat exhaustion working in Amazon's warehouse and was told by warehouse medical personnel to go home. When she returned to work, with a doctor's note, she was fired.

Another woman had to quit working for Amazon after she injured herself on the job and wasn't transferred to a job she could do without chronic pain. Similarly, a man who broke his foot away from work wasn't offered light duty and wasn't given a new job when his foot healed and he reapplied, but Integrity Staffing Solutions appealed his unemployment benefits.

Before you say this is all about Integrity Staffing Solutions, not Amazon, remember that Amazon operates the warehouses and is responsible for working conditions. Beyond that, temp firms like Integrity Staffing Solutions don't engage in reprehensible policies like this only because their executives are greedy, they do it also because keeping their rates artificially low are a requirement of doing business with employers like Amazon. It's a system designed to always be passing the buck for the wretched treatment of workers caught in it, but if Amazon wanted to take the high road, it wouldn't be sending so much business the way of Integrity Staffing Solutions.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 02:28 PM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Invisible People.

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