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Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien Testifies Before Senate Budget Committee, Calls Out Amazon’s Anti-Worker Practices
(WASHINGTON) – Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien called out Amazon during a Senate hearing today for its anti-worker, anti-union practices and demanded the federal government stop awarding the global behemoth lucrative government contracts.
Testifying before the Senate Budget Committee, O’Brien told lawmakers that lawbreaking companies like Amazon should not be allowed to profit at taxpayer expense while violating the rights of workers to collectively bargain. Noting President Biden made a campaign promise to only award contracts to employers who signed neutrality agreements committing to not run anti-union campaigns, O’Brien said it is time to drop the hammer on Amazon.
“To put it plainly, it is wrong for our government to be giving taxpayer dollars in the form of federal contracts to companies like Amazon,” O’Brien said. “You are rewarding employers who repeatedly, knowingly and purposefully violate federal labor laws, drive down wages and standards in core Teamster industries and create dangerous working environments.”
O’Brien noted the company was found guilty last year of illegally firing two workers after they advocated on behalf of their coworkers at an Amazon warehouse in Seattle. Additionally, Amazon broke labor law in Alabama when workers there tried to organize, forcing their election to be rerun this year. In December, the National Labor Relations Board cited Amazon for illegally threatening, surveilling and interrogating workers who were trying to start a union at its Staten Island facility. According to filings with the U.S. Department of Labor, Amazon spent $4.3 million on consultants last year alone to prevent its workers from organizing.
“These kinds of actions make something very clear — when workers try to organize, Amazon breaks the law. When workers raise their voices, Amazon does whatever it takes to shut them up because Amazon is terrified of the power workers have when they act collectively,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien spoke about Amazon’s exploitative business model and its direct impact on workers. As federal safety data shows, the company’s punishing pace-of-work results in worker injury rates that are nearly twice as high as that of all other non-Amazon warehouse facilities. Its employees are seriously injured at rates that are nearly 80 percent higher than the rest of the entire warehouse industry. Amazon accounts for half of all warehouse worker injuries, yet the company only employs a third of all warehouse workers nationwide.
“To this committee and to the entire federal government, do your duty to protect American workers,” O’Brien said. “We are watching, we are listening, and we are voting. Tell Amazon that enough is enough, and then show them you mean business. Don’t give this company, or any employer, another penny until the labor laws of this land are truly upheld and workers’ voices are finally heard.”
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.2 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.