Amazon got a hostile welcome from a New York labor union, which savaged its 'deadly and dehumanizing' working conditions

Amazon workers warehouse

REUTERS/Fred Greaves

Amazon's warehouse working conditions were criticized by the RWDSU.

  • Amazon's employment practices have been labelled "deadly and dehumanizing" in a report by a New York labor 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 white supremacist products.
  • It represents a hostile welcome for Amazon after it announced this month that Long Island, New York City, will be the home of its HQ2 headquarters, along with Virginia.

A New York labor union has published a damning report on Amazon, just as the company prepares to move into New York City under its HQ2 headquarters plan.

The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) published the report on Wednesday, honing in on Amazon's "deadly and dehumanizing employment practices" in warehouses and its anti-union activitiesAdvertisement

The RWDSU also criticized the destruction of brick-and-mortar retailers, and Amazon's record of facilitating the sale of racist and white supremacist products.

The 13-page RWDSU report was mainly drawn 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 which found seven people had died working in fulfilment centers.

It also made reference to a New York Times piece from 2011, which reported that during a heatwave, Amazon paid to have ambulances stationed outside a Pennsylvania warehouse.

Read more: Amazon reportedly left police in Spain 'dumbfounded' by asking them to intervene in a mass warehouse strike and patrol worker productivityIt also drew on reports from the UK, in which undercover journalist James Bloodworth said he found a bottle of urine, as workers feared they would be punished if they took a bathroom break.Advertisement

The union also criticized Amazon's anti-union efforts, referring to a training video obtained by Gizmodo which gave managers tips for spotting "warning signs" that workers may be starting to unionise.

Amazon revealed earlier this month that it would split its new HQ2 headquarters between Long Island, New York City, and 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 RWDSU report, but 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.Advertisement