It’s beginning to look like last week’s warehouse collapse in Illinois that killed six Amazon workers might be the horrifically bad press needed to finally force the company into action. The Verge reports that a group of shareholders are petitioning Amazon’s board of directors to greenlight an independent workplace health and safety audit relying on cooperation from both employees and safety experts.
“As Amazon strives to be ‘the Earth’s Safest Place to Work,’ a review is needed of the practices that have made the company a leader in workplace injuries and a target for criticism and regulation,” reads the shareholder resolution. If Amazon doesn’t issue any challenges of the proposal, the audit will be up for a vote during the company’s annual shareholder meeting in May.
Amazon, as has been noted many times over by now, routinely subjects its warehouse and Prime Delivery drivers to brutal quotas and working conditions. A recent Congressional testimony by Amazon Fresh warehouse worker, Courtenay Brown, detailed sorting through 50,000 groceries per day and timed, two-minute bathroom breaks.
Practicing what it preaches — At this point, the disparity between Amazon’s avowed goal of being the “Earth’s safest place to work” and the actual reality is almost comically cruel. Despite repeated unionization efforts across the country, Amazon’s pushback has ensured the continuation of such jaw-dropping statistics as its warehouses’ injury rates being almost double the national norm. Increased public and federal scrutiny on Amazon and other Big Tech behemoths has gradually increased the pressure for reforms, but now that shareholders are actively pushing back, we can expect the movement to hopefully gain traction much more quickly. Unfortunately, it took six completely avoidable deaths to spur any action.