Call for probe into Amazon working conditions after reports of more worker deaths
Action must be taken now to ensure Amazon workers’ lives are respected, one labor advocacy group says.
A New Jersey labor and immigration advocacy group is calling for regulatory action after reports of two more deaths at the retail giant’s Garden State facilities.
Nayeli Sulca, a member of advocacy group Make the Road New Jersey, said action must be taken now to ensure Amazon workers’ lives are respected.
“That means strong enforcement of health and safety laws, and ensuring Amazon respects workers’ rights to organize,” Sulca said in a statement.
The most recent deaths occurred July 24 at Amazon’s Robbinsville warehouse and Aug. 4 at a Monroe Township delivery facility in Middlesex County, according to MyCentralJersey.com.
They followed the July 13 death of Rafael Reynaldo Mota Frias, a 42-year-old worker in Amazon’s Carteret warehouse who died at the hospital after collapsing and complaining of chest pains. Frias died during Amazon’s massive Prime Day sale, a time when Amazon workers have said they are under extreme pressure to work as fast as they can to fulfill orders.
“We’re deeply saddened by the passing of our colleagues and offer our condolences to their family and friends. Each of these tragic incidents have affected our teams greatly, and we are providing resources for families and employees who need them,” said Sam Stephenson, an Amazon spokesman.
He said the investigations into the deaths are ongoing, and the company is cooperating with Occupational Health and Safety Administration.
An Amazon internal investigation revealed Frias’ death was due to a “personal medical condition” and was not a work-related incident. Frias’ coworkers told the Daily Beast that Frias overheated as he worked in a warehouse that has no air conditioning in the main working area.
Sulca said she knows about “Amazon’s failures when it comes to health and safety” because she experienced them when she worked for the company.
OSHA said it is investigating the death of the Carteret worker but that it could take as many as six months for an investigation to complete. The agency investigates all worker deaths nationally.
The state Labor Department and regional OSHA offices did not respond to requests for comment.
Frias’ death led to sharp criticism of Amazon from Reps. Donald Norcross and Frank Pallone, who called on federal labor officials to “investigate Amazon fully.”
A June report by worker advocacy group National Employment Law Project attributed Amazon’s 124% employee turnover rate, in part, to excessive injuries at the warehouses.
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