Bernie Sanders Leads Probe Into How Amazon Treats Workers During Pandemic

The letter to Jeff Bezos, written by Sanders and Ilhan Omar, requests detailed information about Amazon’s coronavirus response plan.
In a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Senator Bernie Sanders asked the world’s richest man what he was doing to protect his workers in warehouses across the country, at least ten of which already have confirmed cases of coronavirus:   “Even prior to the d

In a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Representative Ilhan Omar and Senator Bernie Sanders asked the world’s richest man what he was doing to protect his workers in warehouses across the country, at least ten of which already have confirmed cases of coronavirus:

“Even prior to the dire global health crisis, these facilities have a proven record of high health and safety standard violations, and Amazon has failed to provide any substantive response or solutions to those violations,” Sanders, Omar, and a host of other lawmakers wrote. “Given that the company has announced plans to hire 100,000 new warehouse workers and institute mandatory overtime, we are growing more concerned that Amazon does not possess an adequate internal pandemic preparedness and response plan. Recent statements made by Amazon do not include sufficient detail, and use vague terms such as ‘often’ and ‘increasing,’ instead of providing specific data.”

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In the United States, Amazon's retail and delivery infrastructure have begun to strain as people isolating at home have shifted to buying goods on its platform. Amazon announced last week it would temporarily suspend all shipments of "non-essential" products to help ease the growing burden.

That move alone, however, is unlikely to save Amazon's supply chain from faltering as the company refuses to close warehouses even as its workers are infected by Covid-19. The same is true with Whole Foods, also owned by Jeff Bezos, which has gone so far as to suggest workers share their paid time off—even as they suffer panic attacks from overworking or come into contact with other workers infected by Covid-19.

There’s no denying that Amazon and Whole Foods are critical services right now, even if that is because Jeff Bezos achieved that role by aggressively pursuing a monopoly, but workers deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. The world’s richest man forcing his workers to risk infection, then refusing them to voluntarily provide them with any sort of paid leave policies or collective support systems.

To try and push Bezos to do the right thing—which, again, he is well able to do as the world’s richest man—Sanders and Omar asked Bezos a series of questions about what steps he was taking to protect his workers from Covid-19: