We’re still two weeks away from Amazon’s annual Prime Day, an e-commerce version of the infamous post-Thanksgiving “Black Friday.” But the latest Last Week Tonight with John Oliver might give pause to online shoppers looking for cheap deals. The titular host confronts viewers with the human cost that comes with a customer base expecting near-instant gratification.
While the episode is ostensibly devoted to online shopping and the mega-warehouses that make it possible, the specter of Jeff Bezos’ money-making monster haunts throughout. Recently, Amazon made headlines after bumping its minimum wage for warehouse workers up to $15, which sounds like a decent move. But that means very little, Oliver notes, when working conditions are so physically taxing they’re breaking employees’ backs—literally. In what might be the episode’s most shocking fact, the U.S. Bureau finds the illness and injury rate for warehouse workers is higher than for those working in coal mines, construction sites and the logging industry.
“I didn’t know there were jobs more dangerous than those, other than maybe rodeo clown, Oompa Loompa or shark dentist,” Oliver tells us.
And the list of abuses stretches onward. There’s the stuff you’d expect—denied bathroom breaks, warehouses without air conditioning, employees regularly hoofing it 15 or more miles in a work day. That’s all small potatoes compared to the woman who had a heart attack and died on-site while higher-ups required remaining employees to work around her dead body.
“Watching that might stick in your head the next time you’re sitting there ordering next-day delivery of Oreos. Do you really need them that fast? Probably not,” says Oliver.
Ouch. We feel seen.
Watch the clip below.