Ohio Democrat Sherrod Brown is among a group of U.S. senators seeking answers from Amazon regarding work-related injuries.
“Amazon’s dismal safety record indicates a greater concern for profits than for your own workers’ safety and health,” the group of senators wrote to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in a Feb. 7 letter. “We urge you to overhaul this profit-at-all costs culture at your company and take the immediate steps identified in this letter to ensure Amazon’s managers treat your workers fairly and do not require them to risk their own health and safety in the course of doing their jobs.”
The senators are requesting a written response to their letter by Feb. 21 that includes “detailed descriptions of the action the company is taking to adopt the policy changes outlined in this letter.”
The request comes after a recent collaboration from The Atlantic and Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting. According to a Nov. 25, 2019 article published in The Atlantic, Reveal collected internal injury records from 23 of Amazon’s 110 fulfillment centers around the country.
“Taken together, the rate of serious injuries for those facilities was more than double the national average for the warehousing industry: 9.6 serious injuries per 100 full-time workers in 2018, compared with an industry average that year of 4,” the article stated.
Brown led the letter along with Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. A dozen other senators — all Democrats — signed the letter, including presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren.
The senators “urged” Amazon to immediately take several actions, including “reduc(ing) workers’ quotas and speed requirements, schedule frequent rest breaks during high production shifts, and eliminate the policy of terminating workers who do not meet their quotas three times.”
An Amazon spokesperson pushed back at the claims in the letter, saying “the reality is we basically do everything” that the senators are requesting.
“Nothing is more important to us than the safety and well-being of our employees,” the Amazon spokesperson said in a statement. “OSHA is on the record as saying that underreporting of injuries is an industry-wide problem, and companies do this to keep their rates low — a former assistant secretary of OSHA estimated that 50 percent or more of severe injuries go unreported.
"Amazon does the opposite — we take an aggressive stance on recording injuries no matter how big or small," the spokesperson said. "The invitation remains open for any of the senators to come take a tour — last year over 300,000 people toured an Amazon fulfillment center and we appreciate that they took the time to learn the facts first-hand.”
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