Header Ads

Breaking News

Warren and Sanders: Amazon must end culture that puts profit over people | Technology

Democratic presidential hopefuls Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are among more than a dozen senators telling Amazon chief Jeff Bezos of their “serious concern” about worker safety at the tech giant.

In a letter to Bezos, the lawmakers called Amazon’s record “dismal”.

“Your employees’ lives and wellbeing depend upon your swift action,” the letter read, demanding a written response by 21 February. “Any practice that puts profits before worker safety is unacceptable.”

Kamala Harris, who ended her campaign for the White House in December, was also among the 15 senators urging Bezos “to take immediate steps to protect employees from workplace injuries”.

Officials said the senators’ concerns stemmed from reports about employee safety and mistreatment. Recent exposés have detailed how Amazon executives dodge regulations to institute warehouse working conditions that include package quotas and speed requirements.

Many critics say such requirements force employees into working through hunger, fatigue, injury or illness. The senators recommended the adoption of mandatory physician referrals for workers who experience symptoms of illness that don’t improve.

The Guardian has reported extensively on conditions at Amazon warehouses.

Earlier this month, it detailed efforts by workers at a huge facility in Staten Island, New York to improve working conditions. Among their demands, the workers sought break times long enough for them to actually reach the warehouse break room. They also called attention to reports of high injury rates at the facility.

The Atlantic, meanwhile, uncovered “ruthless quotas” that worsened ahead of the holiday season, adding to reporting from Gizmodo on often “gruesome” injuries sustained by warehouse employees.

Amazon employees are required to sign non-compete and non-disclosure agreements that ban them from working for competitors or discussing their jobs once they leave.

In a statement in answer to the senators’ letter, Amazon spokeswoman Kelly Cheeseman insisted “nothing is more important … than the safety and wellbeing” of employees.

Pointing to industry-wide underreporting of such issues, she said Amazon took “an aggressive stance on recording injuries no matter how big or small”.

“The invitation remains open for any of the senators to come take a tour,” she said.

On Monday, in an editorial for the New York Times, Amazon public relations chief Jay Carney pointed to a November 2018 call from Sanders which praised a minimum wage increase to $15 hourly.

“His call at least recognized a reality often forgotten or ignored in debates about the role a company like ours can and should play in the economy,” said Carney, formerly White House press secretary under Barack Obama.

Ken Bensinger

Funny how @JayCarney‘s op-ed on Bernie Sanders praising @Amazon for being so great to workers in 2018 came out just days after @BernieSanders signed a letter to @JeffBezos citing “Amazon’s dismal safety record” that puts profits over its “own workers’ safety and health” pic.twitter.com/YOtlTwoCwJ

February 10, 2020

He added that the tech company “deserves scrutiny” but has “already done many of the things politicians demand of America’s leading businesses”.

The editorial drew criticism from journalists and policymakers who said it omitted to mention how pressure from Sanders’ office was required before Amazon agreed to the wage increase.

Carney replied by stating that the editorial was submitted prior to the lawmakers’ letter to Bezos and Sanders’ congratulatory call was made 15 months ago.

Source link

No comments