Amazon got a hostile welcome from a New York labour union, which savaged its working conditions as 'deadly and dehumanising'

  • Amazon’s employment practices have been labelled “deadly and dehumanising” in a report by a New York labour union.
  • The report also criticises Amazon’s anti-union stance, the destruction of brick-and-mortar stores, and its history of facilitating the sale of racist products.
  • It represents a hostile welcome for Amazon after it announced this month that New York City would be home to some new Amazon offices.

A New York labour union has published a damning report on Amazon, just as the company prepares to move into New York City under its new second-headquarters plan.

The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union published the report Wednesday, homing in on what it called “deadly and dehumanising employment practices” in warehouses and Amazon’s anti-union activities.

The union also criticised the destruction of brick-and-mortar retailers as well as Amazon’s record of facilitating the sale of racist products.

The 13-page union report was drawn mainly from information already in the public domain, including previous press coverage and other assessments of Amazon working conditions.

The union pointed to what it sees as a pattern of preventable deaths at Amazon warehouses, citing a National Council for Occupational Safety and Health investigation that found seven people had died working in Amazon’s fulfillment centres.

It also mentioned a New York Times piece from 2011 reporting that Amazon paid to have ambulances stationed outside a Pennsylvania warehouse during a heat wave.

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The union also drew on reports from the UK, in which an undercover journalist named James Bloodworth said he found a bottle of urine at a warehouse, with workers fearing punishment for taking a bathroom break.

The union also criticised Amazon’s anti-union efforts, referring to a training video obtained by Gizmodo that gave managers tips for spotting “warning signs” workers might be starting to unionize.

Amazon revealed earlier this month that it would split its new second headquarters, known as HQ2, between New York City and Northern Virginia. The announcement has already drawn some backlash from New Yorkers, some of whom stormed an Amazon store in protest on Monday.

Amazon declined to comment on the union report, but it did pour scorn on Bloodworth’s undercover reporting. “This is a tired narrative created to sell a book and despite his negative experience and views on the company, Bloodworth found no issues selling on Amazon,” a spokeswoman said.

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