The Times-Tribune

Driven to brink by deliveries

Frenzy of holiday deliveries takes toll on Amazon drivers.

- BY NATALIE KITROEFF

There are few things more important to Amazon.com than delivery. A large part of the reason the retailer is valued at $360 billion is that it has managed to get customers the things they want, cheaper and faster than its competitor­s.

Some day, the company promises, drones will deposit boxes at people’s doorsteps. But for now, the job of handling the holiday delivery crunch is left to an army of people like Angel Echeverria.

Mr. Echeverria drives for LMS Transporta­tion, a local courier in Inglewood, Calif., that delivers packages for Amazon. He starts each day with about 260 boxes, which he has to drop off at perhaps 200 addresses across up to 80 miles in Southern California.

Factoring in the time needed to load and gas up

his white van, Mr. Echeverria has to hit one home every two minutes, on average. Failing to deliver even one package is not an option, he says.

“If you bring anything back, they basically want to cut your throat off,” says Mr. Echeverria, who makes $15 an hour.

For all the control it exercises, Amazon doesn’t count Mr. Echeverria and many other people who speed around major cities in vans filled with Amazon boxes as

its employees.

In an echo of complaints by Uber drivers and other contract workers, delivery drivers in interviews and in court documents say Amazon is working them past a reasonable point, and often avoids paying them overtime or giving legally required meal breaks.

An Amazon spokeswoma­n said the company’s code of conduct for contract delivery companies requires them to provide “appropriat­e work hours and overtime pay.”

But in the past two years, drivers in four states have sued the company for allegedly misclassif­ying them as independen­t contractor­s. Those drivers have said they don’t get overtime pay and can earn less than the minimum wage because they spend so much on gas every week.

In 2015, drivers for Pasadena-based courier Scoobeez who delivered packages for Amazon sued both companies for denying them overtime and effectivel­y paying them less than the minimum wage after drivers subtracted gas, tolls and maintenanc­e from their paychecks.

Drivers in Arizona settled in October with Amazon, which did not admit fault. Cases against the company in California, Illinois and Washington are in progress.

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 ?? THE NEW YORK TIMES FILE ?? An Amazon driver delivers parcels in New York. At this time of year, Amazon’s delivery crush is left up to a small army of people.
THE NEW YORK TIMES FILE An Amazon driver delivers parcels in New York. At this time of year, Amazon’s delivery crush is left up to a small army of people.
 ?? THE NEW YORK TIMES FILE ?? Amazon hopes to one day use drones to make its deliveries.
THE NEW YORK TIMES FILE Amazon hopes to one day use drones to make its deliveries.

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