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Amazon’s Warehouse working conditions, which have come under increasing scrutiny in recent years, are now the focus of a congressional investigation led by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
In a letter to Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, Sanders, chairman of the Senate HELP (Health, Education, Labor and Pensions) committee, said the “e-merchant’s search for profit at any cost” led to it that warehouse workers must experience unsafe work environments with no vulnerabilities and access to appropriate medical care.
“Amazon is acutely aware of these hazardous conditions, the life-changing consequences for workers who are injured on the job, and the steps the company could take to reduce the significant risks of injury,” wrote Sanders, an independent who is co-author collaborating with the Democratic Party. “Nevertheless, the company made a calculated decision not to implement adequate worker protections because Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder, and you, his successor as CEO, have created a culture that treats workers as disposable.”
Steve Kelly, an Amazon spokesman, told CNBC in a statement that the company completely disagreed with Sanders’ claims in the letter. Separately, the company said Sanders was invited to tour one of Amazon’s warehouses.
Sanders urged Jassy to release more information on Amazon’s injury and turnover rates, as well as data on the on-site medical clinic called AMCARE, from 2019. A third party examined “the relationship between the work pace of its warehouse workers and the frequency or cost of injuries in its warehouses”.
Sanders said Jassy has until July 5 to respond to the request. The HELP committee has posted a form on its website asking for testimonials from current and former Amazon employees about their experiences at the company.
In addition to Senate action, Amazon faces ongoing federal investigations into its safety record. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the US Attorney’s Office are investigating conditions at several warehouses, while the Justice Department is also considering whether Amazon is underreporting injuries.
Amazon says it has made progress in reducing injuries at its US operations and continues to invest in safety initiatives, projects and programs. The company has also appealed a number of allegations made by OSHA over the past few months about safety risks and breaches.
Led by Sanders, the HELP committee has targeted other companies’ job records Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz testified before the committee in March after Sanders repeatedly criticized the coffee chain’s handling of workers’ union efforts. Sanders has also been a frequent critic of Amazon’s labor practices, hosting a Senate Budget Committee hearing last May and inviting Bezos to discuss the company’s approach to unions.
REGARD: Why OSHA is investigating Amazon for “failing to keep workers safe”