House Democrats probe Amazon labor practices in ‘severe weather events’

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Democrats on the House Oversight Committee are probing Amazon’s labor practices, particularly during “severe weather events” such as the tornado in Illinois last December that led to a fatal building collapse at an Amazon facility in Edwardsville, Ill. 

Democrats requested documents from Amazon detailing its policies, communications with employees about procedures and any terminations or disciplinary action taken against workers at the Edwardsville and other facilities across the U.S. 

“We are concerned by recent reports that Amazon may be putting the health and safety of its workers at risk, including by requiring them to work in dangerous conditions during tornadoes, hurricanes, and other extreme weather,” they wrote in a letter shared Friday.

“As one of our country’s largest and most profitable corporations, it is imperative that Amazon protect workers’ safety and refrain from practices that could put them in danger,” they added. 

The letter is signed by Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.).

Six workers died onsite after the tornado hit the Amazon facility in Edwardsville.

The incident, which led to an investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, also escalated advocates’ calls for Amazon to rethink policies they said are dangerous. 

But “Edwardsville was not an isolated incident,” the Democrats wrote. 

They also cite reports about workers being required to stay on the job at Amazon during deadly wildfires in California in 2018, extreme heat in the Pacific Northwest in the summer of 2021 and flooding during Hurricanes Irma in 2017 and Ida in 2021. 

The lawmakers are requesting that Amazon respond with documents detailing its policies and correspondence with workers by April 14. 

Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel said the company will “respond to this letter in due course.” 

“Our focus continues to be on supporting our employees and partners, the families who lost loved ones, the surrounding community, and all those affected by the tornadoes,” Nantel said in a statement. 

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