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A Newly-Released Safety Report Recommends Amazon ‘Abandon Its Anti-Union Stance And Allow Unionization,’ Which Is ‘Needed To Help Remedy Dangers’ At Amazon’s Staten Island Warehouse

Published Thursday, October 17, 2019
by Joe Maniscalco/
A Newly-Released Safety Report Recommends Amazon ‘Abandon Its Anti-Union Stance And Allow Unionization,’ Which Is ‘Needed To Help Remedy Dangers’ At Amazon’s Staten Island Warehouse

(NEW YORK CITY) - A newly-released safety report coinciding with the one-year anniversary of Amazon’s sprawling 855,000 square foot warehouse on Staten Island recommends the On-Line Giant finally abandon its Anti-Union stance and implement changes to a workplace that at least one hard-pressed Employee says is “beating up” Workers. 

This past year, between January 3rd and May 7th, the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) surveyed 142 Amazon Employees on Staten Island and found 80% of them were pressured to work harder or faster, 66% experienced physical pain while performing work duties, and 42% continued to experience pain even when they weren’t at work

According to the NYCOSH report, musculoskeletal conditions - injuries to the back, neck, knees, etc. - represent the leading cause of physical disability in the Nation.

The rate of injury and illness at Amazon’s Staten Island facility is nearly seven-times as high as the national average for all industries, as well as a “stunning three-times as high as the average for all other warehouses nationwide.”

In a statement, Dr. David Michaels, the former head of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and currently George Washington University School of Public Health professor, called the NYCOSH study an “eye-opening report documenting the pain suffered by the Amazon Fulfillment Center Workers who are forced to work at dangerous speeds to ensure the packages Americans order arrive quickly.”

Stuart Appelbaum, the President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), said Amazon needs to understand that “Workers are not robots.”

“Amazon has a well -documented history of mistreating and dehumanizing its Workers in the U.S. and around the world,” the RWDSU leader said in a statement. “NYCOSH’s report shows the impacts at just one facility, in just its first year of operating.  Testing hundreds of thousands of Workers’ physical limits is the wrong approach to increasing productivity.  Operating at speeds where eighty-percent of Workers feel pressured means Amazon needs to hire more Workers, under more sustainable speeds that don’t put Workers’ lives in jeopardy.”

The NYCOSH report recommends Amazon implement an Ergonomics Program, reduce line speeds and quit trying to block Workers from organizing at the Staten Island facility.

Amazon execs bristled at the notion of Unionization when members of the New York City Council pressed them on the issue during January hearings aimed at probing the $3 billion sweetheart deal to build a secondary headquarters for Amazon in Long Island City, Queens. 

When asked to assure the City of New York that Amazon would remain neutral should future Employees seek to organize, Amazon Vice President Brian Huseman said, in part, that the “direct connection” it has with its employs is the best way to “respond to the concerns of the workforce.”

Amazon unceremoniously pulled the plug on its HQ2 plans just a couple of weeks after that, on Valentine’s Day.  However, Amazon reportedly still holds a 10-year lease on property in Woodside, Queens where it plans to construct another warehouse or fulfillment center.

On February 12th, an Amazon Employee working at the Staten Island warehouse named Rashad Long was fired after speaking out about oppressive conditions at the facility. 

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