Technology

House Democrats say Amazon obstructing probe into deadly warehouse collapse

Democrats on the House Oversight and Reform Committee said Amazon is obstructing their investigation into a deadly warehouse collapse by failing to send requested documents. 

Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Reps. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) sent a letter to Amazon Thursday demanding the company comply with the committee’s request for documents about labor practices in place during a tornado that hit the company’s Edwardsville, Ill., facility in December. 

The e-commerce giant has yet to turn over “any of the key categories documents identified by committee staff” or the full set of materials the committee requested in March, including internal communications related to the tornado. 

“Unfortunately, Amazon has failed to meaningfully comply with the Committee’s requests, obstructing the Committee’s investigation,” they wrote.

In April, the committee launched a probe into Amazon’s labor practices during extreme weather events, with a focus on the collapse at the Edwardsville facility. Six people died at the site, officials said.

Seven weeks after the deadline the lawmakers gave Amazon to send relevant documents and information, the Democrats said the company has produced “only an incomplete set of policies and procedures.” 

“Amazon’s inability to produce even this limited set of materials in a timely manner is troubling, given that the company represented to Members of Congress more than four months ago that it was ‘conducting a thorough internal investigation’ into the Edwardsville events, and ‘cooperating’ with an inquiry by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In light of this, relevant policy and procedure documents—as well as many other documents the company is withholding—should have been ready for immediate production,” they added.

In April, OSHA told Amazon it would not fine or cite the company over the collapse and that it “met minimal federal safety guidelines.” The agency did make a few recommendations to the company after the investigation. 

Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel said the company was “surprised” to receive the letter because the company produced “more than 1,500 pages of responsive information” to the committee and began to do so two weeks after the request. 

“As we have done from the start, we will continue to work with Committee staff on further document production — which includes the most recent materials we shared on June 1,” Nantel said in a statement. 

Nantel’s statement did not address whether the company provided the specific documentation the Democrats said they are waiting for. 

The Hill reached out for additional comment from Amazon.

Updated at 6:36 p.m.

Tags Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Amazon Amazon warehouse collapse Carolyn Maloney Oversight Committee
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