Bernie Sanders launches Senate investigation into Amazon labor practices

Bernie Sanders launches Senate investigation into Amazon labor practices

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the chairman of the Senate Committee on Well being, Schooling, Labor and Pensions, launched an investigation this week into the nation’s second-largest employer, Amazon, and the working circumstances in its warehouses.

In a letter to Amazon chief govt Andy Jassy, Sanders demanded details about the corporate’s “systematically underreported” damage charges, worker turnover, productiveness targets and adherence to federal and state security suggestions. Sanders usually has castigated Amazon in fervent speeches on earnings inequality and company greed in the US.

“Amazon units an instance for the remainder of the nation,” Sanders informed The Washington Put up in an interview about his choice to deal with the e-commerce big. “What Amazon does, their perspective, their lack of respect for staff, permeates the American company world.”

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Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Put up. Interim Put up chief govt Patty Stonesifer sits on Amazon’s board.

Sanders’s Amazon probe is the newest investigation that the two-time presidential candidate has launched since assuming his position as chairman of the Senate HELP Committee in January. The place has given him huge authority to direct nationwide consideration to the practices of a number of the nation’s strongest corporations, similar to Starbucks and Moderna, and to interrogate their company leaders.

An investigation into office well being and security practices at Amazon — the e-commerce big that has drawn consideration for opposing union organizing efforts and for damage charges roughly double the warehouse-industry common — offers Sanders an outlet to push for accountability from one of many nation’s most influential employers in a divided Congress.

Steve Kelly, a spokesman for Amazon, responded that the corporate had “obtained Chairman Sanders’ letter this night and are within the early levels of reviewing it.” He stated Sanders had an open invitation to tour one among Amazon’s warehouses.

The HELP committee’s earlier main goal was Starbucks. In January, Sanders wrote an analogous letter to Starbucks founder and former CEO Howard Schultz, accusing the corporate of refusing to discount a contract with staff who voted to unionize. In March, Schulz testified earlier than the Senate committee underneath menace of subpoena from Sanders. “Over the previous 18 months, Starbucks has waged essentially the most aggressive and unlawful union-busting marketing campaign within the fashionable historical past of our nation,” Sanders stated on the listening to.

A Starbucks consultant stated on the time that Starbucks had not tried to delay bargaining and that the corporate had come to the desk as legally obligated at shops that voted to unionize.

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On whether or not he would name Amazon’s Jassy or founder Bezos to testify in an analogous listening to, Sanders stated, “That’s an absolute risk.”

In his letter to Jassy, Sanders describes Amazon’s warehouse circumstances as “uniquely harmful.” He pointed to a current report compiled by a coalition of labor unions utilizing federal knowledge that discovered Amazon’s serious-injury fee was double the warehouse {industry} common in 2021. He additionally cited authorities investigations that discovered well being and security violations at Amazon services, and his personal conversations with Amazon warehouse staff.

“Amazon is likely one of the most dear corporations on this planet, value $1.3 trillion and its founder, Jeff Bezos, is likely one of the richest males on this planet value almost $150 billion,” Sanders wrote. “Amazon needs to be one of many most secure locations in America to work, not one of the harmful.”

Kelly, the corporate spokesman, stated Amazon has recorded a 23 p.c discount in accidents since 2019 and pointed to a previous firm assertion about Amazon’s critics’ splicing the info “to go well with their narrative.”

“We’ve invested greater than $1 billion into security initiatives, tasks and packages 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 staff’ security,” Kelly stated.

Sanders has lengthy slammed working circumstances and pay at Amazon. After a marketing campaign led by Sanders, Amazon in 2018 made a shocking announcement: It might elevate its base hourly pay fee to $15, greater than twice the federally mandated minimal wage.

“We listened to our critics, thought onerous about what we wished to do and determined we need to lead,” Bezos, who was CEO of Amazon on the time, stated in a press release. “We’re enthusiastic about this alteration and encourage our rivals and different giant employers to hitch us.”

Sanders stated he was “appreciative” of Amazon’s choice to lift its beginning wage in his interview with The Put up. However stated he had been “extraordinarily upset by their vehement anti-union habits” and office security report.

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“The proof is within the pudding,” Sanders stated, noting Amazon’s excessive degree of employee attrition. A 2021 New York Instances investigation discovered that the corporate’s turnover fee was roughly 150 p.c a yr.

The senator has repeatedly reprimanded Amazon for campaigns to stamp out union organizing efforts in its services; efforts to unionize firm warehouses have unfold throughout the nation.

Final yr, Amazon staff gained a shock victory when warehouse staff in Staten Island voted to hitch the impartial Amazon Labor Union. Amazon has repeatedly appealed the outcomes of that election and efficiently delayed the contract bargaining course of. Supply drivers who work for a third-party contractor in Southern California joined the Teamsters union in April, however Amazon terminated their employer’s contract.

Kelly, the Amazon spokesman, stated that “Amazon strongly disagrees with the end result” of the union election in Staten Island and that the federal labor board and the union had “improperly influenced the end result of the election.”

He stated the Amazon supply drivers who had unionized with the Teamsters didn’t work for Amazon however for a contractor that “had been notified of its termination for poor efficiency nicely earlier than the union announcement.”

Sanders has requested that Jassy and Amazon reply to his letter by July 5.


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