Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders launched an investigation into what he calls “harmful and unlawful circumstances” operating rampant in Amazon’s warehouse amenities. In a fiery letter addressed to CEO Andy Jassy Tuesday, Sanders accused Amazon of placing earnings over folks and creating a company tradition that “treats staff as disposable.”
“At each flip—from warehouse design and workstation setup, to tempo of labor necessities, to medical look after accidents and subsequent stress to return to work—Amazon makes selections that actively hurt staff within the title of its backside line,” Sanders wrote.
The Vermont Democrat, who at the moment chairs the Senate Committee on Well being, Schooling, Labor and Pension (HELP) accused the corporate of willfully and repeatedly violating office security legal guidelines and setting opaque and aggressive productiveness objectives. These ruthless quotas, when mixed with the corporate’s notoriously soul-crushing performance monitoring system, allegedly lead staff to over-exert themselves to the purpose of bodily damage. Warehouse staff crucial of Amazon’s productiveness metrics have mentioned it leaves them feeling like little more than a robot.
Amazon’s incessant productiveness calls for, Sanders alleged, make its office “uniquely harmful.” Chatting with that time, the letter cites an April report from The Strategic Organizing Heart, which estimates Amazon warehouse staff suffered round 39,000 accidents final yr. Amazon’s fee of “severe accidents,” in line with the report, was greater than double the speed at non-Amazon warehouses.
“In its limitless pursuit of earnings, Amazon sacrifices staff’ our bodies underneath the fixed stress of a surveillance system that enforces unimaginable charges,” Sanders mentioned.
The letter provides Jassy up till July fifth to offer documentation explaining Amazon’s famous above-industry common office damage charges as effectively at its excessive charges of damage at amenities with robotics tools. Sanders additionally sought extra readability on the corporate’s excessive fee of employee turnover in addition to any communications inside the firm discussing potential hyperlinks between the tempo of labor in its warehouse and elevated damage charges.
Amazon pushed again towards the letter in an e mail despatched to Gizmodo, with a spokesperson saying the corporate “strongly disagree[s] with Senator Sanders’ assertions.” The corporate referred to as into query the office damage figures cited in Sanders’ letter, together with the findings from the Strategic Organizing Heart, which the corporate described as cherry-picked.
“We take the security and well being of our workers very significantly,” Amazon spokesperson Steve Kelly mentioned. “There’ll at all times be methods to enhance, however we’re happy with the progress we’ve made which features a 23% discount in recordable accidents throughout our U.S. operations since 2019. We’ve invested greater than $1 billion into security initiatives, tasks, and applications within the final 4 years, and we’ll proceed investing and inventing on this space as a result of nothing is extra necessary than our workers’ security.”
Maria Langholz, the Communications Director for left-leaning advocacy group Demand Progress, praised Sanders’ investigation, which she famous may mark a “crucial step” in the direction of a future Congressional listening to the place lawmakers can grill Amazon executives over office security.
“The dire work setting that Amazon staff face is preventable, and this is step one towards conserving Amazon staff secure,” Langholz mentioned.
Staff accuse Amazon of managing by way of ‘worry and surveillance’
Issues over Amazon’s unyielding productiveness necessities has contributed to an uptick in labor organization exercise at warehouse throughout the nation. Khali Jama, an Amazon employee from St. Paul Minnesota organizing with The Awood Heart, attributed the vast majority of the accidents they witnessed in her office to the demanding velocity staff really feel pressured to take care of. Jama accused Amazon of managing her and her fellow staff by way of a brutal equipment of “worry and surveillance.”
“In case you are not maintaining with their unreasonable requirements of velocity, a supervisor will come speak to you and let you know to hurry up,” Jama mentioned in an announcement offered to Gizmodo by the Athena Coalition. “In case you are nonetheless not capable of sustain for a second, or a 3rd time, you’re going to get fired by way of an app in your telephone. Nobody tells you that you’ve got been fired.”
Sanders’ new investigaiton comes simply months after the Occupational Security and Well being Administration (OSHA) the nation’s high office security regulator, issued multiple citations towards Amazon for exposing staff to hazardous circumstances. Employee frustrations with Amazon’s perceived disregard for security led hundreds of warehosue workers to stroll out in protests earlier this yr.
“Amazon is among the most beneficial firms on this planet value $1.3 trillion and its founder, Jeff Bezos, is among the richest males on this planet value practically $150 billion,” Sanders mentioned in his letter. “Amazon must be one of many most secure locations in America to work, not some of the harmful.”
“If Amazon can afford to spend $6 billion on inventory buybacks final yr, it will possibly afford to make it possible for its warehouses are secure locations to work,” Sanders added.