House DFL takes aim at Amazon in promoting warehouse safety bill – Duluth News Tribune

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ST. PAUL — Amazon distribution center employees joined Democratic-Farmer-Labor lawmakers at the state Capitol Monday, March 28, to share their experiences ahead of a House vote on legislation aimed at improving warehouse worker safety.

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A bill introduced by Rep. Emma Greenman, DFL-Minneapolis, would require warehouses with more than 250 employees to provide workers with written notice of productivity quotas and would ban quotas that would interfere with breaks. It would also require employees to provide work speed and quota data to any employee upon request.

Citing a report from the National Employment Law Center, Greenman said that one in nine Amazon warehouse employees is hurt on the job, a rate twice that of non-Amazon warehouses in Minnesota and four times the injury rate across all industries in the state.

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Amazon did not immediately respond to request for comment.

“Work shouldn’t hurt. But for many Minnesota workers in Amazon warehouses, it does,” Greenman said. “Workers report pushing themselves to the brink, often skipping rest, bathroom and prayer breaks to meet quotas that are constantly changing and often not even disclosed.”

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Mohamed Mire Mohamed and Tyler Hamilton, who work at the Amazon distribution center in the Twin Cities suburb of Shakopee, said the pace of work at the warehouse is hard to keep up with and leads to injuries. Mohamed described Amazon workers as “blood donors.”

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Hamilton, who has been an employee at the warehouse for more than four years, said work pace expectations are often unclear. He said that encourages employees to work at unsafe paces to keep ahead.

“Systematically, people are not set up for success,” Hamilton said. “If you go in a warehouse it looks so clean, it looks so nice compared to other warehouses. And yet the injury rate tells a completely different story.”

During floor debate on the bill Monday afternoon, Republicans questioned the need for a bill when the state already has workplace safety standards. They also criticized the bill for appearing to have a narrow focus on Amazon.

Rep. Tony Jurgens, R-Cottage Grove, said he agreed Amazon needs to improve its conditions but wasn’t sure if Greenman’s proposal was the best way to address concerns. He ultimately voted in favor of the bill.

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The House passed the bill 72-60 on mostly partisan lines.





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