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The New Yorkers for a Fair Economy coalition’s bombshell data comes as NY State Labor Chairs-sponsored Warehouse Worker Protection Act steadily gains support in Albany

New York, NY (May 19, 2022) – A new report from the New Yorkers for a Fair Economy coalition reveals that Amazon warehouse workers in New York suffered a spike in work-related injuries last year while the company doubled its facilities in the state.

The report, Warehousing Pain: Amazon Worker Injury Rate Skyrockets with Company’s Rapid Expansion in New York State, analyzes newly-released data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to illustrate a striking rise (64%) of injuries at New York Amazon facilities, compared to the 20% increase nationally. This rise directly follows Amazon reinstituting disciplinary, electronic monitoring, and quota policies in late 2020 that had been suspended at the beginning of the pandemic.

The report’s findings on New York Amazon facilities include the following:

  • Eighty-nine percent of injuries reported were cases serious enough that workers could not continue performing their normal job duties and either had to change job duties or take time off work to recover.

  • Amazon’s 2021 total injury rate in New York (9.0 per 100 FTE) is approximately equivalent to one injury for every 11 full-time workers.

  • Serious injury rate at Amazon facilities is 40 percent higher than at non-Amazon facilities statewide.

  • The rate of serious injury for New York Amazon warehouse and logistics workers (8.0 per 100 FTE) is 18 percent higher than the Amazon national average for that measure (6.8 per 100 FTE). Similarly, the total injury rate for New York Amazon warehouse and logistics workers (9.0 per 100 FTE) is 14 percent higher than the Amazon national average for total injuries (7.9 per 100 FTE).

“Injuries at Amazon facilities in New York are off the charts by all measures and should ring alarm bells,” said Irene Tung, author of the report and Senior Researcher and Policy Analyst at the National Employment Law Project (NELP). “These injuries are completely preventable and the jump in injury rates between 2020 and 2021 makes crystal clear what is wrong at Amazon. In 2020, workers experienced some relief when Amazon slowed down the pace of work and suspended parts of its intensive electronic monitoring and disciplinary system in response to the pandemic. But as soon as Amazon reinstated those practices, worker injuries skyrocketed.”

This alarming data comes as the Sen. Jessica Ramos and Asmb. Latoya Joyner-sponsored legislation, Warehouse Worker Protection Act (WWPA), is steadily gaining co-sponsors as it moves through the chambers in Albany. If passed, the legislation would require warehouse employers to disclose work quotas and prevent employers from disciplining workers if they fail to meet a quota for either taking needed rest periods and bathroom breaks or complying with other health and safety laws. The bill is supported by the New Yorkers for a Fair Economy coalition— led by ALIGN and including RWDSU, Teamsters Joint Council 16, New York Communities for Change, NELP, and others—as well as the newly-formed Amazon Labor Union. If passed, it would aid organizing efforts in warehouses across the state by giving workers clearer information about how Amazon uses quotas to discipline and terminate workers.

“This data emphasizes that the legislature needs to treat the Warehouse Worker Protection Act with serious urgency. As if the numbers presented by NELP are not serious enough, it’s extremely sobering knowing that only 29 of the 50 warehouses operating in New York State in 2021 actually reported their injuries to OSHA. This indicates that the spike is potentially much more serious than what is even accounted for here,” said Senate Labor Chair, Jessica Ramos (D, WF – SD13). “Amazon is being very transparent about how little they value their workers’ health and dignity. The legislature cannot abide any employer treating their workers, our constituents, as disposable. It’s time to rein in these high tech sweatshops, and catch our labor laws up to curb the damage done by algorithm-driven productivity quotas.”

“We have 38,000 New York workers who are essential to our economy and we need to protect them from workplace injuries that are directly tied to the inhumane high-speed quotas that some employers are imposing,”  Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner (D-Bronx, 77th AD), chair of the Assembly Labor Committee, said. “We have nearly doubled the number of cosponsors for this legislation in the past week and I am very hopeful that we can get the bill through the Assembly this session and that the Senate passes it as well. A healthy economy requires a healthy workforce and we need to ensure that large corporate giants don’t push workplace safety in New York to the breaking point.”

“Amazon warehouses had 40 percent more injuries than other warehouses in New York,” said Thomas Gesualdi, President of Teamsters Joint Council 16. “Teamster members have spent decades fighting for strong safety standards in this industry, but Amazon’s growth is again putting workers in danger. We need the Warehouse Worker Protection Act to set a safety baseline for all warehouse companies. Long term, the solution is union rights and collective bargaining for all warehouse workers so they have a voice on the job and protect themselves.”

“This staggering data confirms what workers have been saying: their health and safety is an afterthought in Amazon’s harmful business model. We cannot allow them or any other corporate abusers to expand and exploit without consequence. State legislators must act and pass the Warehouse Workers Protection Act immediately,” said Maritza Silva-Farrell, Executive Director of ALIGN, leader of the New Yorkers for a Fair Economy coalition.

“Warehouse workers are on the frontlines of America’s battle against corporate power. This report highlights the problematic experiences shared by so many, including my own constituents. I support the Warehouse Workers Protection Act, as part of our broader push to reign in corporate power,” said Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris.

State Senator Brad Hoylman said, “Productivity is important — but not at the expense of our laborers’ safety and for the profit of the wealthiest man on the planet. We should all be disturbed that Amazon’s warehouse injury rate is 40% higher than injury rates at other warehouses. Warehouse jobs are proliferating across our state, and New York will not stay silent while our workers are operating in unsafe conditions while Amazon’s owner is too busy dawdling in outer space. Albany must pass Senator Ramos’ much needed Warehouse Worker Protection Act to demonstrate our commitment to our constituents.”

Senator Andrew Gounardes said, “We don’t always see the very difficult physical labor behind all the goods and services we get delivered to our door. As our relentless need for goods on demand has only increased during the pandemic, it is our responsibility to protect the men and women who make sure we have what we need when we need it. The WWPA bill considers the humanity of these essential workers by barring abusive quotas and making sure the department of labor is able to hold employers accountable.”

“It’s time to pass the Warehouse Worker Protection Act. Quotas are not worth putting your body at risk and in harm’s way. We need to do everything we can to protect our workers,” said Assemblymember Harvey Epstein.

“I am a proud and vocal Co-Sponsor of S.8922, the Warehouse Worker Protection Act because I believe that our jobs and professions should be both a means and an end to human dignity, safety, security and the ability to grow and thrive in life. Modern day sweatshops, in the guise of warehouses of horrors, must have no place in New York. I sincerely hope we pass this bill as soon as possible!” said Senator Cordell Cleare.

About New Yorkers for a Fair Economy
New Yorkers for a Fair Economy (NYFE) is a coalition of labor organizations, small businesses, and immigrant and community organizations uniting to safeguard our communities from abusive practices of big corporations and achieve an economy that works for all New Yorkers. NYFE is led by ALIGN (Alliance for a Greater New York) and includes labor unions Teamsters Joint Council 16 and Retail Wholesale, and Department Store Union; community groups New York Communities for Change and Make the Road New York; and research and advocacy organizations like National Employment Law Project and Strategic Organizing Center, among others.