Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) led a group of 13 members of Congress urging the Department of Labor to immediately investigate chronic violations of workplace safety at all Amazon warehouses, “owing to the breadth and severity of past violations as well as mounting public revelations of brutal and hazardous working conditions.”
Their letter to the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) comes in the wake of a Monday work stoppage by Amazon warehouse workers in Minnesota to protest unfair and unsafe conditions in the midst of Prime Day, Amazon’s biggest sales event of the year.
The bicameral group of lawmakers cite a work environment at Amazon warehouses that “creates a high risk of physical injuries, a risk increased by Amazon’s intentional disregard for the health and safety of their employees,” including a “disturbing pattern of preventable deaths.” Amazon workers have launched rallies in cities across the United States and strikes in countries around the world during Amazon’s Prime Day event to push for fair treatment.
“Hundreds of workers have shared their stories with us about unconscionable working conditions at Amazon,” said Sanders. “Today, we call on the Department of Labor to immediately investigate all Amazon warehouses for violations of workplace safety and labor laws and prosecute those responsible to the fullest extent of the law. People who work for a company owned by the wealthiest person in America should not have to risk their lives, health or well-being on the job. They must be treated with dignity and respect.”
“Amazon is one of the most profitable companies on the face of the planet. They earned $59.7 billion last quarter. Their CEO, Jeff Bezos, is the wealthiest man in the world – with a net worth greater than 125 of the world’s 195 nations. Yet, according to extensive reporting, they fail to treat their workers with basic humanity,” said Omar. “Amazon workers often work in overheated facilities without air conditioning. They fear taking bathroom and water breaks for fear of retaliation. Workplace injuries are often ignored – sometimes leaving workers homeless or bereft of income. There are multiple reports of deaths of Amazon workers on the company’s watch. This is a 21st-century sweatshop. It is past time for OSHA to launch a comprehensive investigation into the inhumane condition in Amazon warehouses – and hold this corporate malfeasance accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
Representatives Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Deb Haaland (D-NM), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Al Green (D-TX), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Andy Levin (D-MI), and Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) joined in demanding a comprehensive investigation by the Department of Labor. The lawmakers noted that despite Amazon’s 100 warehouses employing more than 125,000 people in the United States, OSHA had reported conducting only 150 inspections of Amazon spaces and issued just 41 violations in the last five years.