- Rep. Rashida Tlaib attacked Amazon and Jeff Bezos in a statement to Business Insider, saying the company has been unfairly allowed to profit during the pandemic while endangering its frontline workers.
- “The continued disregard by Amazon of its worker’s well-being and safety must be exposed,” said Tlaib. Amazon was not properly cleaning its facilities, she claimed.
- She also criticized the company’s low tax bills and climate change policies.
- Tlaib’s comments come after she signed an open letter to Jeff Bezos along with 400 international lawmakers.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Rep. Rashida Tlaib has attacked Amazon and its CEO Jeff Bezos, saying the company has unfairly profited during the pandemic while endangering its frontline workers.
She regularly hears from Amazon staff who are “afraid to go to work” because the company isn’t properly cleaning its facilities, Tlaib told Business Insider in a statement.
“The continued disregard by Amazon of its worker’s well-being and safety must be exposed,” she said.
“The fact that Amazon continues to make billions in profit, even during a pandemic, while skirting taxes and while their employees are forced to work in unsafe conditions demonstrates that this company will not do what is right without workers organizing to make them,” she added.
Amazon reported its biggest profit ever in July, with online sales soaring 48% to $45.9 billion for the second quarter of 2020.
“I visited an Amazon facility in my district and was upset at the lack of precautions and resources they provided to their employees to protect from COVID-19,” she said.
“I continue to hear every week from constituents who work at Amazon who are afraid to go to work because Amazon isn’t properly cleaning its facilities, and who can’t take time off to stay safe because Amazon has ended crucial leave options.”
Rep. Tlaib paid a surprise visit a Michigan Amazon warehouse in September along with Democratic Representative Debbie Dingell.
“Employee screening is poorly executed, cleaning is insufficient, social distancing is often difficult or impossible, and Amazon’s relentless quota system does not allow for breaks for adequate personal hygiene,” Tlaib said at the time.
Business Insider has spoken to Amazon warehouse workers over the course of the pandemic who have said social distancing is practically impossible inside the warehouses.
Amazon said in a November blog post it expects to spend $10 billion on “COVID-related initiatives to keep employees safe and get products to customers.”
On taxes, Tlaib told Business Insider that “Amazon and Jeff Bezos do not exist in a vacuum, and they have a duty to our society.”
“They must pay their fair share in taxes to support the infrastructure they thoroughly enjoy and reform their wasteful practices that accelerate climate change,” she said.
Historically, Amazon has been able to pay extremely low amounts of federal taxes – including bills of $0 in 2017 and 2018 – by using a variety of legal tax credits and exemptions. The e-commerce giant has also faced criticism on its climate commitments from employee activists.
“My residents are demanding that corporations pay their fair share and do right by communities. We are demanding accountability now,” Tlaib told Business Insider.
Business Insider has asked Amazon for comment on Tlaib’s criticisms of the company.
Tlaib’s comments came after she signed an open letter to Jeff Bezos along with 400 other international lawmakers, calling for the company to pay its workers higher wages, take more action on climate change, and pay higher taxes. The signatories included fellow Democrats Representatives Ilhan Omar, Jamaal Bowman, Ro Khanna, and Keith Ellison.
Read more: How Jeff Bezos’ ‘customer obsession’ transformed Amazon from an online bookseller into a $1.4 trillion retail giant that’s burrowed into every corner of daily life
The lawmakers expressed solidarity with a series of protests by workers, trade unionists, and activists which took place on Friday last week.
An Amazon spokesperson told Business Insider about the letter: “While as a large company we welcome scrutiny from policymakers, the matters raised in this letter stem from a series of misleading assertions by misinformed or self-interested groups who appear to be using Amazon’s profile to further their individual causes.
“Amazon has a strong track record of supporting our employees, our customers, and our communities, including providing safe working conditions, competitive wages and great benefits, leading on climate change with the Climate Pledge commitment to be net zero carbon by 2040, and paying billions of dollars in taxes globally. We look forward to continued dialogue with interested parties on these topics,” they added.