The House Committee on Oversight and Reform has opened an investigation into Amazon’s labor practices during severe weather, according to a letter sent by members to Andy Jassy, Amazon’s CEO.
“We are concerned about recent reports that Amazon is endangering the health and safety of its employees, including by requiring them to work in hazardous conditions during tornadoes, hurricanes and other extreme weather,” said the letter, signed by the chairman of the company. the Commision. , Carolyn B. Maloney, as well as Representatives Cori Bush and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
The investigation will focus on the December tornado that struck Amazon’s delivery station in Edwardsville, Illinois, killing six people. Most of the people in the facility were not Amazon’s direct employees. They were subcontracted delivery drivers, a complication that hampered response when authorities were unable to easily determine how many people were on the scene. The facility did not have a tornado vault, which was not required by the building code.
According to the text messages Bloomberg News published, at least one subcontractor was told to continue delivering during the storm. Amazon said the subcontractor’s coordinator did not 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, an Amazon spokeswoman, said in a statement. “We will respond to this letter in due course.”
Amazon’s labor practices are becoming increasingly critical as it has grown to become the country’s second-largest private employer after Walmart. The company employs 1.1 million employees directly in the United States, plus many more through contractors.
The letter asked Amazon for documents and communications regarding how it managed its workforce during several natural disasters, including fires in California, a heat wave in the Pacific Northwest and Hurricane Irma in Florida.
“This study will provide information on legislative efforts to curb unfair labor practices, strengthen worker protections and address the effects of climate change on worker safety,” it said.