person with feet up in cardboard cubicle with caption 'When you don't want to vto so you just sit in a chair for 11 hours' (l&r) amazon sign (c)

Ioan Panaite/Shutterstock @jesenitaaaa/TikTok (Licensed)

‘Treating y’all like students’: Viral TikTok allegedly shows Amazon workers waiting it out in chairs to avoid using unpaid time off

'When you don't want vto so you just sit in a chair for 11 hours.'


Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Internet Culture

Posted on Mar 17, 2022   Updated on Apr 6, 2022, 1:36 pm CDT

It’s an understatement to say that Amazon has a bad workplace reputation. There are plenty of horror stories about alleged OSHA violations and overwork at Amazon warehouses, but this viral TikTok reveals a different issue: Amazon workers being left to wait with nothing to do.

With 2.5 million views in less than a week, this video from TikToker @jesenitaaaa shows a group of Amazon workers sitting in cardboard cubicles in a warehouse. The caption reads, “When you don’t want vto so you just sit in a chair for 11 hours.”

VTO stands for voluntary time off, meaning unpaid time off. While this may sound like a benefit, it’s been criticized for a variety of reasons. Warehouse workers are often encouraged to take VTO partway through their shift (or even as soon as they arrive at work), unpredictably reducing their paid hours. Amazon saves money by sending some workers home, while the workers lose money they expected to earn.

Hence why the people in this TikTok are sticking around with nothing to do. They want to keep their paycheck.

Some of the TikTok’s commenters were confused about what VTO is, but most were sympathetic. “What in the late stage capitalism is going on,” one wrote, while others remarked on the conditions in the warehouse: “Amazon made 33 billion dollars last year and they got Amazon cardboard boxes as cubicles.”

Other Amazon workers also chimed in to compare this TikTok to the conditions at their own workplaces. “i wish my amazon would do this!!!” one wrote. “they always make us detail clean everything for hours!!! they wont let is sit for a minute.”

This person wasn’t alone, with other commenters mentioning that they were forced to stand up or do unnecessary tasks if they refused to take unpaid time off.

While VTO is described as voluntary, there are anecdotes about workers being pressured to take VTO, sometimes right after they arrive at the warehouse after a long commute. Not only is this inconvenient, but it can harm people financially. It’s no surprise that Amazon TikTok is full of people complaining about this practice, even though some others are happy to just stay home.

The Daily Dot has reached out to @jesenitaaaa via TikTok comment.

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*First Published: Mar 17, 2022, 9:06 am CDT