Amazon Inc’s labour practices ‘under severe weather event’s is under investigation by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. The committee has initiate the investigation to look into the retail giants’ warehouse in Illinois where six people died in a tornado strike last winter. They are looking for documents and records of communications from Amazon within the next couple of weeks. These revelations were made by a letter signed by Reps Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), and Cori Bush (D-MO) along with Amazon CEO Andy Jassy.
The letter mentions reports that Amazon threatened to layoff workers if they left their work as the storm bore down in the locality. Moreover, even delivery executives were not permitted to “call drivers back without” the approval of the authorities. These rules were apparently in place even with an active tornado warning. Unfortunately, the storm went on to hit the warehouse in Edwardsville, ending up collapsing and killing six people.
The demands of the committee:
They are demanding an overwhelming degree of information from the company. These include the requests paperwork regarding Amazon’s emergency preparedness necessities. Along with the drills it carried out in this particular city, and logs every communication among “managerial staff, employees, or contractors.” These communications refer to ones about employment duties and company protocol in the event of “severe weather events,” and other instances. They are also seeking Amazon’s internal investigation into the events of Edwardsville, along with information on discipline faced by workers or contractors everywhere. The company received the request to submit the necessary paperwork by Thursday, April 14.
Additionally, the legislators brought up concerns risen at other warehouses, some specifically linked to the staff being instructed to work at extreme conditions. These include events of the wildfires in California, serious heatwaves in Oregon and Washington, along with hurricanes in 2017 and 2018. Previously, two other groups of lawmakers launched an investigation in Edwardsville, Illinois. They sent letters asking for answers regarding warehouse practices of Amazon in December. Along with it, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration initiating their own investigation.
Though the retail company is yet to acknowledge any requests made for comments, it is clear that its warehouse practices are evidently questionable. The dissatisfaction of the employees is clear from the recent demands to form unionisations. Recently, an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island, New York voted to form the first US union of workers.