On June 20, Senator Bernie Sanders, who chairs the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), informed Amazon CEO Andy Jassy about an ongoing investigation into the labor conditions of Amazon’s warehouses. Sanders sent a letter to Jassy requesting information regarding injury rates, employee turnover, productivity targets, and adherence to federal safety recommendations. The investigation was prompted by a report compiled by labor unions using federal data, which revealed that Amazon’s serious-injury rate in 2021 was double the industry average for warehouses.
In his letter, Sanders accused Amazon of prioritizing profits over worker safety, leading to unsafe physical environments, intense pressure to work at unsustainable rates, and inadequate medical attention for employees. Amazon spokesperson Steve Kelly stated that the company was reviewing Sanders’ letter and disagreed with his assertions, highlighting that Amazon has seen a 23 percent reduction in injuries since 2019. Kelly also criticized critics for selectively using data to support their narratives.
Sanders’ letter further alleged that Amazon’s clinics are designed to undertreat and underreport injuries, aiming to return workers to the warehouse floor as quickly as possible. Sanders mentioned that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued the company at least 50 citations for violating workplace health and safety laws. Amazon has appealed all the citations, emphasizing its commitment to employee safety and the billion-dollar investments made in safety initiatives, projects, and programs over the past four years.
In addition to the letter and investigation, Sanders and the HELP Committee launched a website for Amazon workers to report labor conditions to the committee. This initiative aims to gather information on workers’ experiences with HR regarding injuries, return to work, workplace accommodations, workers’ compensation, disability, insurance coverage, and related matters.
The investigation comes in the wake of Amazon’s opposition to employee unionization efforts. The company spent over $14.2 million on anti-union consultants in the previous year, drawing criticism from Sanders, who expressed his strong disapproval of Amazon’s anti-union behavior.
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