Bernie Sanders will not quit until Jeff Bezos is reduced to dust.
Earlier this month, Gizmodo obtained vital Occupational Safety and Health Administration data about Amazon’s massive fulfillment centre in Staten Island. It revealed what workers had long suspected to be true, albeit now proven by data tracked internally by the company itself: a truly staggering rate and severity of injuries. These numbers had not previously been public because the OSHA forms where they’re recorded— 300 and 300a—have to be requested by current or former employees.
For those currently working at Amazon, requesting and then publicizing these numbers might put them at risk of reprisal from management; a considerably broader story based around Amazon 300a data from Reveal also indicated that the company was less than cooperative, attempting to obfuscate this data even though it’s legally compelled to comply upon request. How exactly are aggrieved workers supposed to safely coordinate the acquisition of this data from 100+ U.S.-based facilities?
Enter Vermont Senator and Democratic presidential hopeful Bernard Sanders.
In a letter to Loren Sweatt, deputy assistant secretary of labour, Sanders and close ally Representative Ilhan Omar, today requested form 300, 300a, and 301 data “for all Amazon facilities for calendar years 2016, 2017, and 2018.” Sanders previously requested OSHA launch an investigation into Amazon—something it declined to do—and Sanders’ request now comes as a result of “your agency’s lack of attention to this serious matter,” the letter reads. (Form 301 is a more detailed individual incident report.)
Both Gizmodo and Reveal’s reporting showed injury rates at Amazon facilities to be well above average for warehousing. In the case of JFK8, the company’s name for the Staten Island fulfillment centre, the injury rate was three times the industry average in 2018, and what injuries were recorded caused workers to miss an average of around two months of work. The bulk of those injuries can be chalked up to the crush of “peak season,” the holiday rush, often replete with mandatory overtime, to fulfil holiday orders.
In other words, the time of year when the highest number of injuries occur at an Amazon facility is right now—making Senator Sanders’s request all the more urgent.
Because this information is all recorded electronically, Sanders and Omar, according to a press release, “estimate that it should take no more than a day for OSHA to comply with this request.” But of course, a vast chasm can emerge between “should” and “does” in the absence of political will to protect workers.
An OSHA representative was not available for comment.