A New York labor union blasted Amazon for “deadly” and “dehumanizing” employment practices in a scathing report published Wednesday as the tech giant’s plan to build a New York campus draws increased scrutiny.
The report from the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) cited grueling, dangerous conditions at the tech company’s warehouses — including allegations disputed by Amazon that U.K. warehouse workers had to pee in bottles because they feared being disciplined if they took a bathroom break — and a host of other allegations.
The union’s 13-page report, which is primarily drawn from information in the public domain and press coverage of the retail giant, states that nine workers have died at Amazon facilities since 2013.
“Any company being welcomed into New York to create jobs should have a record of treating workers fairly and respecting unions. Amazon clearly does not. As our report shows, Amazon routinely mistreats and exploits its workers at all levels – whether they are employed in its corporate offices or in its warehouses,” said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the RWDSU, in a statement provided to Fox News.
Despite having the backing of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo, the retail behemoth has faced a backlash from local politicians and activist groups for planning to accept a range of incentives from the city and state worth $2.5 billion to create 25,000 full-time jobs in the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens, New York.
The RWDSU report also cites what it claims are Amazon’s anti-union activities, including a 45-minute training video obtained by Gizmodo that reportedly shows managers how to spot union organizing activities among employees and how to discourage union organizing without running afoul of the National Labor Relations Act.
Still, not every union is against the tech company’s planned expansion into the Big Apple. The building workers’ union, 32BJ SEIU, has backed the project, praising the “thousands of good union jobs that will build, maintain and secure this complex” in a statement.
The union’s efforts against Amazon have received support from a number of New York City officials who are demanding oversight hearings or threatening lawsuits as a way to slow or stop the process of Amazon’s expansion.
New York City Council member Jumaane Williams, who last year signed a letter asking Amazon to consider New York for its second headquarters, told the New York Post the deal offers the tech giant “extravagant expenses” and complained that local politicians had zero input in a “secret backroom deal” and vowed to “do all in my power to fight its implementation.”
A spokesperson for Amazon provided Fox News with the following statement:
“This so-called report is a rehash of inaccurate and exaggerated news stories spanning several years that ignore the facts. Amazon makes substantial positive contributions to the economy, the communities where we operate, and to the lives and careers of our employees. We have created over 250,000 full time, full benefit jobs across the U.S. that now have a minimum $15 an hour pay. We have invested more than $160 billion in the U.S. economy since 2011 which has created over 360,000 indirect jobs in construction, hospitality, logistics, and other professional services. Small and medium-sized businesses selling on Amazon’s stores have created more than 900,000 jobs. Amazon respects the rights of employees to choose to join or not join a labor union. We firmly believe the direct connection we have with employees is the most effective way to understand and respond to the needs of our employees.”
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