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Rep. Cori Bush, other lawmakers say Amazon is 'obstructing' their tornado investigation

Rep. Cori Bush, other lawmakers say Amazon is 'obstructing' their tornado investigation

COLLINSVILLE, Ill. — Six months after six Amazon workers died in a tornado, lawmakers claim Amazon is not only being uncooperative, but is also blocking their investigation. Representative Cori Bush and two other Democratic lawmakers sent a letter to the company’s CEO, demanding accountability. 

Amazon says they’ve been transparent, providing lawmakers the documents they're requesting. 

“At Amazon, had you ever been through a tornado drill?" asked the I-Team's Paula Vasan.

“No... I didn’t know where to go," said Jamarco Hickman, a former Amazon delivery truck driver who survived the deadly tornado at his warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois on December 10. 

Hickman described his former employer as having no plans and no protocols when the tornado struck. 

“Amazon definitely could have done more," he said. “Amazon had more than enough information to know that day that there was a potential for severe weather.”

So back in March, lawmakers with the House Committee on Oversight and Reform asked Amazon for documents showing how it handles severe weather. Their deadline was April 14.

“Amazon’s failure to provide key documents has obstructed the Committee’s investigation,” the letter says.

Representative Cori Bush sent us a statement that said: “Six people, including two of our St. Louis community members, died at work in December because they feared Amazon would retaliate if they sought shelter in the middle of a tornado. Amazon has failed to respond adequately to numerous Congressional inquiries into this horrific disaster. St. Louis, the families, and employees in warehouses across the country deserve answers. Every employee should know they are safe at work. Amazon must answer for its negligence.” 

She said Amazon’s lack of transparency is preventing possible legislation that could make people safer. 

Amazon says they've provided what lawmakers are asking of them. In a statement, Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel said: “We were surprised to receive this letter because we began producing materials to the Committee just two weeks after receiving its initial request and have produced more than 1,500 pages of responsive information.  As we have done from the start, we will continue to work with Committee staff on further document production — which includes the most recent materials we shared on June 1.”

We asked Representative Cori Bush about the hundreds of pages of documents Amazon said they’ve handed over. We’re waiting to hear back. Meanwhile, Bush and other lawmakers who signed this letter say they’re giving Amazon until June 8th to give them the documents they’re asking for. We’ll be following up and keeping you posted.

Last month, Amazon told us its Edwardsville warehouse was built to code — a code that didn’t account for 155 mph winds. If the Edwardsville site were rebuilt today, there’s no requirement for storm shelters or to construct any differently.

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