Bernie Sanders launches Amazon investigation into 'dangerous and illegal conditions' at warehouses

'Amazon should be one of the safest places in America to work, not one of the most dangerous,' Sen. Bernie Sanders writes

Sen. Bernie Sanders at Senate hearing

US Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) presides over a Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions hearing with former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz as he testifies about the company's labor and union practices on Capitol Hill in Washington, D (SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

Progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., is launching a Senate investigation into "the dangerous and illegal conditions" at Amazon facilities, according to a letter sent to Amazon CEO Andy Jassy on Tuesday. 

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) chairman claims that Amazon made "a calculated decision" to treat workers as "disposable" and "actively harm workers in the name of its bottom line."

"The time has come for Amazon to stop willfully violating workplace safety laws with impunity and commit to changing its operations to protect the health and safety of its workers," wrote Sanders. 


The investigation highlights the latest effort by the U.S. government to hold Amazon accountable over its labor practices. Since 2015, there have been at least 50 citations and 30 hazard alert letters issued to Amazon by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). 

Amazon worker grabbing item

An Amazon employee packs items up to be shipped out to customers inside Amazons Bridgewater "mini-fulfillment center." (Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Sanders called Amazon one of the "most dangerous" places in America to work, detailing monitoring techniques "to pressure and intimidate workers into working as hard and fast as possible" until employees reach "a breaking point." 

In 2022, there were nearly 39,000 injuries at Amazon warehouses. In February, an OSHA investigation found unsafe working conditions in warehouses in Colorado, Idaho and New York.


"Amazon's operating methods are creating hazardous work conditions and processes, leading to serious worker injuries," said Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker. 

Although the e-commerce giant’s profits soared during the pandemic, Amazon has been the victim of massive lay-offs in the tech industry — offboarding around 16,000 employees so far this year.

Sanders wrote that during this time, Amazon "proved that it could reduce worker injuries… when the pace of work increased as pandemic precautions lifted, the injury rates increased as well."

Amazon workers loading trucks

Workers load packages into Amazon Rivian electric trucks at an Amazon facility in Poway, California, Nov. 16, 2022. (Reuters/Sandy Huffaker / Reuters Photos)

The HELP committee is requesting information about why Amazon’s injury rates are higher than industry average and how its use of robotic equipment can increase workplace injuries. 

The committee is also requesting a range of documents about turnover rates, available labor, communications about hazards, audits, analyses, reviews, or studies given to executives, and the number of calls received by Amazon’s physician hotline. Amazon has until July 5th to comply with the request. 

Additionally, the committee has created a website for Amazon workers to share their experiences and offer confidential information to aid the investigation. 

The logo of the U.S. online retail giant Amazon on a New York distribution center

The logo of the U.S. online retail giant Amazon is seen at the distribution center in Staten Island as workers strike in demand that the facility be shut down and cleaned after one staffer tested positive for the coronavirus on March 30, 2020, in New (ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Amazon Spokesperson Steve Kelly told the Washington Post that the company "received Chairman Sanders’ letter this evening and are in the early stages of reviewing it."

The two-time presidential candidate has long been a critic of major corporations over what he considers anti-union attitudes and workplace conditions. 


When Sanders became chair of the powerful HELP committee in January, he wasted no time penning a letter to former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz claiming that the coffee chain has "waged the most aggressive and illegal union-busting campaign in the modern history of our country."

"The HELP Committee will tell the CEOs and billionaires that they cannot have it all. That our economy has to work for working people, and not just the people on top," said Sanders in a tweet Tuesday night.