House Oversight Committee investigates Amazon labor practices after warehouse collapse in Illinois

On Friday, the House Oversight Committee launched an investigation into the labor practices of retail giant Amazon, following the collapse of a warehouse in Illinois, late last year. The warehouse in Edwardsville partially crumbled as it was struck by a tornado in December and six workers were killed. On Thursday, the panel sent a letter to the CEO Andrew Jassy asking for information about the Amazon warehouse collapse and other weather related incidents.

The letter written by the panel of Congresspersons said that they were concerned that Amazon might be risking the health and safety of its workers as it required them to continue working under dangerous conditions such as “tornadoes, hurricanes and other extreme weather. The letter also mentioned that Amazon should “protect workers’ safety and refrain from practices that could put them in danger.”

The tragedy at the Amazon warehouse Edwardsville, Illinois has prompted the lawmakers to ask for attendance and leave policy documentation and information about emergency drills and communications that might have been conducted at the warehouse before the tornado struck and fatally killed six. It also caused part of the warehouse to collapse.

The letter also seeks information about the disciplinary actions that should have been taken against those employees or contractors who had directed employees to “stay on the job” at facilities in seven locations, according to earlier reports.

These directives were given to Amazon employees during the occurrence of the following incidents:
The dangerous flooding due to Hurricane Irma in 2017
The 2018 deadly wildfires in California
The extreme heat conditions in the Pacific Northwest in summer 2021
The dangerous flooding during Hurricane Ida in 2021.

On Friday, Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel released a statement that mentioned that the company continued to focus on supporting their employees and partners as well as the families who had lost their loved ones during the tornado. It also said that the retailer was focusing on the surrounding community as well as those who were affected by the tornado. The statement also said that the company would respond to the letter from Congress.

Image Wikimedia

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