The House Committee on Oversight and Reform has launched an investigation into Amazon’s labor practices during severe weather, according to a letter members sent to Andy Jassy, Amazon’s chief executive officer.
“We are concerned by recent reports that Amazon may be endangering the health and safety of its employees, including by requiring them to work in hazardous conditions during tornadoes, hurricanes and other extreme weather conditions,” the committee chair said signed letters , Representative Carolyn B. Maloney of New York, and Representatives Cori Bush of Missouri and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. All are Democrats.
The investigation will focus on the December tornado that struck Amazon’s delivery facility in Edwardsville, Illinois, killing six people. Most of the people at the facility were not direct employees of Amazon. They were subcontracted delivery drivers, a complication that hampered the response when authorities could not readily ascertain how many people were at the scene. The facility did not have a tornado shelter, which was not required by the building code.
At least one employed driver was asked to continue to deliver during the storm, according to text messages published by Bloomberg News. Amazon said the subcontractor’s dispatcher failed to follow its safety protocols.
“Our focus remains on supporting our employees and partners, the families who have lost loved ones, the surrounding community and everyone affected by the tornadoes,” Kelly Nantel, a spokeswoman for Amazon, said in a statement on Friday. “We will respond to this letter in due course.”
Amazon’s labor practices have come under increasing scrutiny as the company has become the country’s second-largest private employer after Walmart. The company employs 1.1 million people directly in the United States and many more through contractors.
The letter asked Amazon for documents and communications related to how the company has managed its workforce during several natural disasters, including fires in California, a heat wave in the Pacific Northwest and Hurricane Irma in Florida.
“This investigation will inform legislative efforts to curb unfair labor practices, strengthen worker protections and address the impact of climate change on worker safety,” it said.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/01/technology/amazon-labor-practices.html House of Representatives Committee to Inquire into Labor Practices in the Amazon