A new report confirms the Empire State and the retail empire’s tumultuous relationship.
Last week, New Yorker for a Fair Economy released a report detailing an increase in injuries on the job in 2021 as the company established more warehouses in the state.
Data analyzed in the report “Warehousing Pain: Amazon Worker Injury Rate Skyrockets with Company’s Rapid Expansion in New York State,” which was obtained from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), showed a 64% rise in injuries in New York’s Amazon warehouse locations compared to 20% nationally.
“Injuries at Amazon facilities in New York are off the charts by all measures and should ring alarm bells,” stated Irene Tung, author of the report and senior researcher and policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project (NELP). “These injuries are completely preventable and the jump in injury rates between 2020 and 2021 makes crystal clear what is wrong at Amazon. In 2020, workers experienced some relief when Amazon slowed down the pace of work and suspended parts of its intensive electronic monitoring and disciplinary system in response to the pandemic. But as soon as Amazon reinstated those practices, worker injuries skyrocketed.”
The report states that 89% of injuries reported were serious enough that workers couldn’t continue to do their job and either switched gigs or had to take time off. In 2021, Amazon’s total injury rate was one for every 11 full-time workers.
“This data emphasizes that the legislature needs to treat the Warehouse Worker Protection Act with serious urgency,” stated New York State Senate Labor Chair, Jessica Ramos. “As if the numbers presented by NELP are not serious enough, it’s extremely sobering knowing that only 29 of the 50 warehouses operating in New York State in 2021 actually reported their injuries to OSHA. This indicates that the spike is potentially much more serious than what is even accounted for here.”
The report also revealed that the“serious injury” rate at Amazon facilities is 40% higher than at non-Amazon warehouses and wish fulfillment centers across the country. According to the report, the rate of serious injury for New York Amazon warehouse and logistics workers is 18% higher than Amazon’s national average.
This comes off of the retail giant reinstituting disciplinary, electronic monitoring, and quote policies several months into the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Amazon warehouses had 40% more injuries than other warehouses in New York,” stated Thomas Gesualdi, president of Teamsters Joint Council 16. “Teamster members have spent decades fighting for strong safety standards in this industry, but Amazon’s growth is again putting workers in danger. We need the Warehouse Worker Protection Act to set a safety baseline for all warehouse companies. Long term, the solution is union rights and collective bargaining for all warehouse workers so they have a voice on the job and protect themselves.”
The Warehouse Worker Protection Act would force companies like Amazon to limit the amount of hours their warehouse/wish fulfillment center employees can work daily and weekly. Last week labor unions and workers stood outside of the JFK2 Amazon Fulfillment Center calling Amazon to do right by its employers.
Recently, Amazon’s JFK8 fulfillment center on Staten Island voted in favor to form a union. They were sparked by allegedly subpar working conditions as well. Earlier, an Amazon spokesperson stated, “Our employees have always had the choice of whether or not to join a union, and they overwhelmingly chose not to join the RWDSU earlier this year. It’s disappointing that the NLRB has now decided that those votes shouldn’t count. As a company, we don’t think unions are the best answer for our employees.”
New York State Sen. Cordell Cleare said now is the time for Amazon to clean things up.
“I am a proud and vocal Co-Sponsor of S.8922, the Warehouse Worker Protection Act because I believe that our jobs and professions should be both a means and an end to human dignity, safety, security and the ability to grow and thrive in life,” stated Cleare. “Modern day sweatshops, in the guise of warehouses of horrors, must have no place in New York. I sincerely hope we pass this bill as soon as possible!”