A pro-union research group is pressing the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate Amazon for allegedly making "repeated false and misleading statements concerning the company's health and safety performance."
The Strategic Organizing Center cites Andy Jassy's 2021 letter to shareholders, which said Amazon is "about average" in the number of workplace injuries compared to its industry peers. The organization said Jassy used data from 2020 instead of 2021, when Amazon's warehouse injury rate increased by 20%, and any "reasonable investor" wouldn't be expected to recognize whether the information is up to date and accurate.
The SOC alleged that Jassy's letter and other information about warehouse injuries provided by Amazon prompted BlackRock to vote against a shareholder proposal on health and safety monitoring "because it took Amazon's claims about injury rates … at face value."
“BlackRock’s statement indicates a prominent and sophisticated investor relied on Amazon’s misstatements to inform how it voted its Amazon shares,” the groups complaint reads.
Amazon's warehouse injury rates have hovered around more than double the national average since 2017. And while the company's serious injury rates dropped in 2020 and 2021, overall injuries have increased. The company has become the center of several inquiries into safety procedures and warehouse practices over the past year: House Democrats launched probes into Amazon after a tornado killed six workers when a facility collapsed in Edwardsville, Illinois in December 2021, and some states are proposing legislation targeting Amazon's productivity quotas.
Still, Amazon wrote in a January report that its warehouses are becoming safer for workers, citing a decrease in the number of injuries that result in missed work and other data.
Amazon said there's "no merit" to the SOC's complaint. "Amazon relies on the most recent, credible, independently verified safety data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics," a spokesperson told Protocol. "The latest published data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics covers 2020, and they are expected to publish their 2021 data in November once they have completed their analysis."
Update, July 7: After publication, Amazon replied to Protocol's request for comment.