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Amazon under investigation by House committee after deaths in warehouse

First responders surround a damaged Amazon fulfillment center Dec. 11, 2021 in Edwardsville, Illinois, near St. Louis.

Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images

A congressional committee is investigating Amazon over concerns the tech giant is putting its employees at risk by having them work in hazardous conditions during tornadoes and other extreme weather events, says a letter sent to the CEO this week. the Andy Jassy company by the committee.

The inquest will examine the deaths of six workers last year who were killed when a tornado struck an Amazon warehouse near St. Louis, the letter from the House Committee on Oversight and Reform said. As the tornado approached, the letter said, facility supervisors allegedly threatened workers and contractors that if they left, they would be fired or face other consequences.

The survey will also take a broader view of Amazon’s policies.

The tornado situation “was not an isolated incident,” the committee said in its letter. “Amazon workers would have been required to stay on the job during the deadly California wildfires of 2018, extreme heat in the Pacific Northwest in the summer of 2021, and dangerous flooding during Hurricanes Irma in 2017 and Ida in 2021.”

The letter asks Amazon to provide the committee with documents related to the tornado event and the company’s policies regarding extreme weather situations, including emergency practices and disciplinary and termination policies. The committee wants the documents by April 14th.

Amazon did not immediately respond to CNET’s request for comment. A company spokeswoman told the New York Times, “Our goal continues to be to support our employees and partners, the families who have lost loved ones, the surrounding community and all those affected. by tornadoes. We will respond to this letter. in a timely manner.” Last year, the company told Bloomberg that federal guidelines and proper safety procedures were followed in the warehouse during the tornado.

Amazon’s labor practices have come under intense scrutiny, with the company facing allegations of, among other things, insufficient precautions around COVID-19, unlawful firing of employees, inappropriate activities around organizing efforts and inadequate restroom breaks for workers.


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