The site of a roof collapse at an Amazon.com distribution center in Edwardsville, Illinois.
Drone Base | Reuters
Members of the House Oversight Committee are alleging that Amazon is “obstructing” the panel’s investigation into a deadly warehouse collapse at one of the company’s facilities in Illinois.
In a Wednesday letter addressed to Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, the Oversight Committee’s chairwoman, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., and Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Cori Bush, D-Mo., said the company has “failed to produce” key documents requested by lawmakers related to the tragic warehouse collapse.
Last December, a tornado ripped through one of Amazon’s Edwardsville, Illinois, warehouses, known as DLI4, causing the 1.1 million-square-foot facility’s roof to collapse, while 40-foot-tall, 11-inch thick walls on the sides of the building fell inward.
Six workers were killed. Many of the victims were contracted delivery drivers, who pulled into the facility just before the storm hit and frantically fled to a bathroom in an area of the building that was hit by the storm.
The House Oversight Committee in April opened a probe into Amazon’s labor practices and is specifically zeroing in on its handling of the warehouse collapse. Lawmakers gave Amazon until April 14 to respond to its inquiry and produce the requested documents. The committee is seeking communications between Amazon managers and employees at the Edwardsville, Illinois, facility, among other things.
“Nearly seven weeks have passed since the April 2022 deadline, yet Amazon still has not produced any of the key categories of documents identified by Committee staff, let alone the full set of materials the Committee requested in March,” the lawmakers said.
Amazon also refused to share documents related to its internal investigation of the warehouse collapse, the lawmakers said. They added that attorneys for Amazon declined to produce them citing “work-product and attorney-client privileges.” But those privileges aren’t “valid reasons to withhold documents from Congress,” they said.
“Amazon’s failure to provide key documents has obstructed the Committee’s investigation,” the lawmakers wrote, adding that Amazon must respond by June 8.
“If Amazon fails to do so, the Committee will have no choice but to consider alternative measures to obtain full compliance,” they added. Next steps might include lawmakers issuing a subpoena or calling for subjects to testify at a hearing.
Amazon didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel previously told CNBC that the company remains focused on supporting its employees, the families of the victims and the surrounding Edwardsville community.