back to article Amazon accused of obstructing probe into deadly warehouse collapse

The US House Oversight Committee has told Amazon CEO Andy Jassy to turn over documents pertaining to the collapse of an Amazon warehouse – and if he doesn't, the lawmakers say they will be forced to "consider alternative measures." Penned by Oversight Committee members Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Cori Bush (D-MO) and …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So... this is why Baldy

    is planning on running for POTUS.

    Once installed he can make sure that the people responsible for this are given presidential pardons. You know, just like No 45 did for his friends and allies

    He'll walk away with a few hundred billion more in the bank. Shoddy buildings cost less to put up.

    Amazon is like a drug. Just say NO and stop using them.

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Billionaire runs for president

      I'm sure Mike Bloomberg has a ton of advice for Jeff.

      It might be 12,000 pages of 'Don't.' repeated over and over.

      C.

    2. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: So... this is why Baldy

      I actually have stopped using them, although it was mostly because I can't find anything to buy in the sea of alphabet-soup Chinese names. I haven't ordered from them in 4 months.

      1. EricB123 Bronze badge

        Speaking of...

        Have you ever tried to cancel a Prime membership? Almost as simple as going into space.

        1. Gene Cash Silver badge

          Re: Speaking of...

          Have you ever tried to cancel a Prime membership? Almost as simple as going into space.

          I figured. And THAT is the reason I've never had a Prime membership.

          1. Neil Barnes Silver badge
            Big Brother

            Re: Speaking of...

            I've had a free Prime membership a handful of times, always initiated when the morass of 'are you really sure you don't want to not continue without not having Prime' links while just trying to order something led down the wrong path, in spite of my best efforts to avoid it.

            In every case I have cancelled - or started to cancel - membership within minutes.

            In every case I have had to resort to the internet to find the mechanism to cancel the membership - most recently, the links required to cancel did not appear on my account until over twenty-four hours later.

            You'd think they'd notice...

          2. nematoad Silver badge
            Unhappy

            Re: Speaking of...

            "I figured. And THAT is the reason I've never had a Prime membership."

            Then you can't have bought anything from them.

            In my experience if you get anything at all from them you will be enrolled in that Prime nonsense and as EricB123 says getting free of their clammy grasp is not easy.

            In my case I had to make several calls to their call centre and ask them to place a flag on my account so that in the unlikely event of me ever doing business with them again I would not have to go through all the rigmarole of declining their kind offer.

            1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

              Re: Speaking of...

              Rubbish. I've never had a Prime membership, despite the incessant offers of both the regular Prime and student Prime (even though I haven't been an enrolled student since I finished my most recent degree seven or eight years ago).

              These days, I avoid Amazon as much as I can.

      2. Smeagolberg

        Re: So... this is why Baldy

        I've almost stopped using them for the last year or two (with rare exceptions).

        The reasons were:

        - bad and worsening treatment of employees

        - detrimental effect on small business (and consequently on communities)

        - worsening value / unreliable reviews for a substantial and growing proportion of products

        - tax avoidance tactics, which adversely affects citizens (whose tax is correspondingly greater) and local (national) businesses.

        For a while Amazon has often been more expensive than alternatives, but even when cheaper I often prefer local businesses.

        1. Muscleguy Silver badge

          Re: So... this is why Baldy

          Of late I find eBay to be fairly consistently cheaper than Amazon.

        2. Spasticus Autisticus

          Re: So... this is why Baldy

          Argos - for a Karcher washer, cheaper than Amazon.

    3. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: So... this is why Baldy

      Hardly seems worth running for president just to pardon some underlings for a building collapse. He can always hire new underlings.

      Unlike Trump he really is so rich he could self finance his campaign, but the amount of grift available for a US president is way too small for him to bother with. Trump schemes like charging Secret Service personnel for staying in his hotels to protect him (even charging them for rental golf carts!) are to him like you and I bending over to pick up a penny.

    4. Version 1.0 Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: So... this is why Baldy

      "Amazon is like a drug" - no Amazon is nowhere nearly as nice, if it wasn't so risky I'd vastly prefer smoking a little weed and listening to CSNY, the Floyd, and Edward Elgar than visiting the Amazon site every night.

  2. Youngone Silver badge

    Oh no, not the comfy chair!

    So these fools are going to "consider alternative measures." are they?

    Instead of sending their own people in to investigate what went wrong, they'll wag their fingers and pretend Amazon might listen.

    I'm sure Amazon are terrified.

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Oh no, not the comfy chair!

      Instead of sending the sheriff in to arrest Bezos for a couple weeks in the cooler until he decides to comply with the probe

      Fixed that for you.

      1. Potemkine! Silver badge

        Re: Oh no, not the comfy chair!

        You know that kind of things never happen for that kind of people. This treatment is only for the ones who cannot afford to avoid it.

        All people are equal, but some are more equal than others.

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Oh no, not the comfy chair!

        Bezos no longer runs Amazon. He got out while the getting was good.

  3. Pinero50

    Axe to grind..

    It strikes me that cortez has an axe to grind after amazon pulled out of new york due to her and other politicians rediculous demands, She shouldn't even be on that investigative comittee.

    I fail to see how you can hold a company resonsible for deaths due to an unusual weather event, the warehouse was built completely to code, according to local officials. The 46 staff were all warned some 10 mins before the tornado hit and most moved to the shelter, but some elected to go to the southern end which wasn't a shelter but a designated safer area (no windows)

    There are obviously some questions to ask about the standard of warehouses across the midwest and weather building code needs changing to make them more tornado proof, since climate change is apparently causing more frequent events. But this has nothing to do with amazon, as far as I can see they've done more than most companies would and this seems to me like a deliberate attempt to smear them.. again.There was another factory destroyed at the same time in mayfield kentucky.. but there are no plans to investigate that one.

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Axe to grind..

      No, according to the BBC, workers were told to keep working after the tornado siren went off.

      One of the killed workers was trying to help others to shelter, without help from management.

      One person died in a bathroom because the company told him to go there instead of the storm shelter.

      https://www.bbc.com/news/business-59641784

      There was another factory destroyed at the same time in mayfield kentucky

      Were there deaths? Then yes, it should be investigated. If not, then no.

    2. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: Axe to grind..

      You need to improve your news sources.

      AOC was blocking the Amazon deal because it meant giving $3 billion to Amazon in subsidies to come to New York.

      Please tell me why the US tax payer should give Bezos $3 billion?

      After the deal collapsed (and AOC saved you $3 billion), Amazon blinked, and ended up creating a (admittedly smaller) operation in New York with no subsidies.

      So, please tell me why:

      1) AOC has an axe to grind saving New York citizens giving $3 billion to the one of the richest companies in the world.

      2) AOC shouldn't be on any investigating committee?

      3) If Amazon has done everything by the book, they are trying to avoid an investigation (which is a routine event if people are killed in such accidents)

      P.S. Instead of whinging here, why not tell the world about your "big scoop" that they are investigating amazon and not the candle factory? Presumably because you are talking bollocks?

      https://www.wtvr.com/news/national/osha-violations-at-candle-factory-hit-by-tornado-newsy-investigation-finds

      1. Pinero50

        Re: Axe to grind..

        1) Because she lost 25,000 potential jobs and an estimated $27 Billion dollars in tax revenue over the next 20 years.. That's why Cortez is pissed off, she expected them to roll over and aquiesce, but they called her bluff and told New York to take a hike.

        2) She shouldn't be on any commitee where she has an interest in taking down the people they're investigating, that's just common sense. She definitely considers any billionaire public enemy number one, regardless of what their company may have done.

        3) Amazon absolutely should avoid the investigation regardless of whether they've done anything wrong, especially if the investigators have it in for them. The more data they give them the more ammunition they will have to concoct a plausible charge against the company, it's pure self defence. You have a right to not incriminate yourself by remaining silent, Amazon is just attempting to do the same thing.

        The article I read and posted a link to (it was removed by the moderator) was written at the time of the incidents and no investigation into the mayfield tornado deaths had been launched. I quote from the article:

        'Osha, which is part of the US Department of Labor, said federal investigators were not investigating the Kentucky factory collapse because the state has its own workplace safety agency'

        www.theguardian.com/technology/2021/dec/13/amazon-warehouse-collapse-safety-illinois

    3. IGotOut Silver badge

      Re: Axe to grind..

      Go back. Read article.

    4. Insert sadsack pun here Silver badge

      Re: Axe to grind..

      "amazon pulled out of new york due to her and other politicians rediculous demands"

      1) Amazon didn't pull out of New York. Amazon sought competitive bids (subsidies, tax breaks, land) from localities in order to locate their HQ2 there, and NYC was in the running. AOC didn't want Amazon to be offered freebies.

      2) Amazon didn't pull out of New York. in fact, they announced they'd invest in a huge campus there without the package of subsidies and breaks they wanted.

      3) AOC is a federal legislator. It was New York State and New York City politicians that could have offered Amazon subsidies etc. Federal government can't discriminate among states. She objected to the "beauty parade" of giveaways to Amazon, but it wasn't her delusion one way or the other.

  4. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Tornadoes

    Living in tornado country one learns very quickly tornadoes are very unpredictable and potentially deadly. There have been many well built structures utterly destroyed by a direct hit from a tornado including schools with children present (Moore, OK a few years ago). Unfortunately some of these hits have resulted in deaths of people trying to shelter in place. This seems to be Congress critters bloviating about something they no nothing about, don't really care about the victims and their families, and frankly could not do much about anyway.

    1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      Re: Tornadoes

      "This seems to be Congress critters bloviating about something they no nothing about, don't really care about the victims and their families"

      Projection.

    2. Swarthy Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Tornadoes

      It seems to me that the article s less about Congress investigating the fatalities, and more about Amazon withholding documents and obstructing said investigation.

      We could have an eternal back-and-forth about weather (sorry) Congress should investigate, but it strikes me as funny how a lot of the commentards defending Amazon on this are members of the "If you have nothing to hide..." group; or at least use the same linguistic style and idiom.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    > "during which stock owners voted down 15 shareholder proposals"

    Um.. what's the difference between a stock owner and a share holder??

  6. Jellied Eel Silver badge

    I feel dirty

    This sounds.. wrong, even though it's Amazon.

    Amazon has claimed work-product and attorney-client privilege to withhold the documents; the Oversight committee said it "does not recognize common-law privileges as valid reasons to withhold documents from Congress."

    Especially as there's been a trial recently of Michael Sussman, a Clinton attorney who helped create the 'fake news' about Trump and Alfa Bank. During the trial process, the investigators wanted communications from the Dems and FusionGPS who tried to assert attorney-client and work-product privilege. In an ideal world, those are pretty important principles to protect. So it took a while for the justice system to rule if communications were privieged, or not.

    Now Congress seems to think that their privilege overrules normal legal definitions. This is potentially bad given AFAIK, once documents have been read into Congress, they're then public records, and privilege is obviously lost. Given the way political parties have been practising lawfare lately, this is probably a very bad idea.

    Especially I think as Congress has other options available to compel production. I think with existing powers, it could probably detain executives until the privilege isuses are sorted out. I'm guessing Amazon's concern is it's probably being sued by the victims, and victim's next of kin, so doesn't want to help those claims by revealing those documents in Congress.

    1. Swarthy Silver badge

      Re: I feel dirty

      I hate to agree with you, but I do agree that attorney-client privilege is one that should well remain sacrosanct. However, I don't see how Disaster policies and procedures could possibly fall under that umbrella. Neither should the post-catastrophic communication between managers, unless they are all lawyers, and each others' clients. It has been laid down in precedent that forwarding communications (letter, email, etc) or sending documents to an attorney does not put the communique or document under privilege.

      Amazon may have done everything right pre-disaster (Probably not, but judgment withheld and all that) and obstruction is not a good indicator of guilt; but it sure as hell ain't an indicator of innocence.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: I feel dirty

        Contrary to popular myth, even attorney-client privileges are subject to some caveats.

  7. ITS Retired

    Federal marshals need to descend on the upper management, starting from Jeff himself, and put them in jail on remand, until such time the requested document are produced.

    That is the only way to get their attention. Otherwise, with Amazon's power, money and lobbyists, the government will never overrule Amazon.

    BTY, Amazon is so bad, they are hard pressed to defend, except for their size and wealth.

    1. Spasticus Autisticus

      An easier solution perhaps is to send H&S, or whatever the US equivalent is, to another Amazon warehouse in the tornado belt for an unannounced inspection that includes a drill for an emergency evacuation. Do that once or twice and the documents might appear.

      1. Insert sadsack pun here Silver badge

        Unfortunately, OSHA has been gutted of people and resources over the last few years.

        https://www.nelp.org/news-releases/workplace-fatalities-rising-trump-osha-enforcement-declines/

        http://www.slate.com/articles/business/moneybox/2015/07/osha_safety_standards_how_politics_have_undermined_the_agency_s_ability.html?via=gdpr-consent

        https://www.forbes.com/sites/tedknutson/2020/04/01/worker-dangers-up-as-trump-osha-cuts-come-home-to-roost-say-afl-cio-exec-ex-dol-official/amp/

  8. xyz123 Bronze badge

    7 Weeks?

    Amazon needs to hire someone with better photoshop skills to create the completely 100% fake documents they'll turn over, in which it states the dead employees signed away their safety rights and/or agreed to binding arbitration in the event of their death.

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