Rep. Norcross Keeps Pressure on Amazon Over Dangerous Warehouses at Workplace Safety Hearing
Today, U.S. Congressman Donald Norcross (NJ-01) kept the pressure on Amazon at the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections hearing on the unsafe and untenable conditions warehouse workers face. Three Amazon warehouse workers died in New Jersey between July and August 2022.
“Amazon says it is ‘Earth’s Safest Place to Work,’ but in reality, it has one of the highest serious injury rates in the country,” said Congressman Norcross. “Amazon can improve workplace safety. It has modern facilities with the latest technology. All warehouse workers should go home the same way they went to work: safe and unharmed.”
“We cannot have a serious conversation about worker safety in the warehouse industry without focusing on the enormous toll of serious injury and disability that threatens hundreds of thousands of Amazon warehouse workers every single day,” said Eric Frumin, the health and safety director for the Strategic Organizing Center.
“Perhaps not everyone can understand what it’s like for families like these to suffer a loss due to health and safety risks at their job being ignored. Unfortunately, I can… I received a call that my brother Edilberto was at the hospital with a very, very dangerous injury in his brain. He died four days later,” said Janeth Caicedo, whose brother Edilberto was killed in a warehouse accident while working for an unlicensed temp agency in New Jersey.
“A core issue of warehousing is pace of work. Workers are pushed to move as quickly as possible in these workplaces, in order to keep up with the rapid pace of delivery necessary to keep the supply chain thin and running smoothly… When you order a product to arrive in 24 or 48 hours, there is no magic robot or process that makes that happen. The product moves fast because people run,” said Sheheryar Kaoosji, the executive director of the Warehouse Workers Resource Center.
“Serious injuries increase when there aren’t proper workplace protections. Employers must implement common-sense safety standards. Today’s hearing is an important opportunity to demand that companies like Amazon take responsibility for the safety of their employees. The Teamsters thank Chairman Scott and Chairwoman Adams, as well as Congressman Norcross, for their efforts to advocate for the needs of workers on the job,” said Sean M. O’Brien, the general president of the Teamsters.
“Regulations protecting workers in the warehousing industry have lagged far behind its rapid growth. The rise of e-commerce has forever changed the retail sector. Just because the work has changed doesn’t mean workers shouldn’t be protected. We will continue to fight to ensure workers and their health and safety are protected, and we thank Congressman Donald Norcross for convening this critical panel today," said Stuart Appelbaum, the president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).
Congressman Norcross has been an outspoken critic of dangerous workplaces, including Amazon warehouses. As an electrician by trade who spent years working in the construction industry, he has seen the human cost of unsafe workplaces firsthand.
Timeline of Congressman Norcross’s Leadership on Amazon Warehouse Safety:
- April 29, 2022: Congressman Norcross called for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to investigate the serious injury rates at Amazon’s warehouses, which far exceed the industrial average.
- May 25, 2022: Congressman Norcross questioned the Assistant Secretary of Labor at a Workforce Protections Subcommittee hearing over the agency’s approach to investigations due to workplace injuries and alluded to Amazon being worthy of investigation.
- May 25, 2022: Congressman Norcross led members of the New Jersey congressional delegation in a letter to the Department of Labor, asking OSHA to investigate Amazon warehouse injury rates.
- June 1, 2022: Congressman Norcross held a press conference in front of an Amazon facility in Logan Township, New Jersey, with labor advocates and former Amazon workers who had been injured on the job, demanding the company do right on behalf of its workers and improve workplace safety.
- July 20, 2022: Congressman Norcross released a statement in reaction to the death of an Amazon warehouse worker at its facility in Carteret, NJ.
- July 24, 2022: Amazon warehouse worker dies at the Amazon facility in Robbinsville, NJ.
- July 26, 2022: Congressman Norcross called for an expanded OSHA investigation and draws attention to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York’s investigation.
- July 27, 2022: Congressmen Norcross and Frank Pallone, who represents Carteret, sent a letter to OSHA asking them to look into fraudulent reporting of injury rates.
- August 4, 2022: Amazon warehouse worker dies at the Amazon facility in Monroe, NJ.
- October 14, 2022: Congressman Norcross led a letter to Education and Labor Committee Chair Bobby Scott (VA-03) requesting a warehouse worker safety hearing before the Workforce Protections Subcommittee.