… (ISS’s) Golbreski did not dispute any of Fritchman’s testimony about suffering heat exhaustion or bringing in a doctor’s note.

“I don’t have that information,” Golbreski said in response to Fritchman’s testimony. “I’m not aware of that.”

Participants in an appeal can question one another and Fritchman asked Golbreski if workers sent home early due to health concerns still get demerits. Golbreski responded: “I believe that is correct.”

Fighting unemployment claims (some of which are indeed spurious, Soper reports) keeps the temp agency’s unemployment insurance costs down. Amazon keeps its own down by offloading its responsibility to employees to a little-known third party:

The very nature of Amazon’s business, which requires thousands of temporary warehouse workers during the busy holiday shopping season, would leave it prone to high costs for unemployment insurance. Temporary-staffing firms create a buffer between Amazon and higher unemployment insurance costs because temporary warehouse workers are employees of the agency, not Amazon.

Pennsylvania wouldn’t release records to Soper on how many unemployment cases Amazon’s temp firm fights, but one state source told him it was in the hundreds annually—more even than Walmart, and one of the most frequent appeals filer in the state. The unemployment-claims practices of ISS, which operates for Amazon in several states, and other temp firms might make for good investigations elsewhere.

This SUNY professor quoted by Soper pretty much sums it all up:

“They can treat these workers like a disposable commodity, because there are so many more people in line,” Gonos said.
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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu. Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.