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Senators tap Amazon's Bezos for answers on reported abuse of drivers

Three US senators send a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos saying that "media reports regarding Amazon's mistreatment of workers ... are deeply troubling."

Lawmakers want answers from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. 
Jim Watson/Getty Images

Three US senators urged Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on Thursday to look into allegations that the company's delivery contractors are skirting labor laws and risking driver safety. In an open letter, the senators called on Bezos to respond by Sept. 27 with details of Amazon's third-party contracting and training practices, and information on whether the company has engaged in anti-union activity.

The letter cites, among other reports, an Aug. 31 Buzzfeed investigation into the inner workings of Amazon's delivery arm. That report documented a litany of potential labor violations endangering drivers. 

"While Amazon has continuously made claims that it treats workers fairly and has 'requirements for safety' in place, fines levied by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration paint a notably different picture," the senators wrote in their letter. "Additionally, growing media reports, regarding Amazon's mistreatment of workers and failure to address lawmakers and agency concerns, are deeply troubling."

The letter was signed by Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Sherrod Brown of Ohio. 

In an email to CNET an Amazon spokesperson defended the company's labor law compliance record.

"We have strict requirements for safety and labor wages and working conditions that meet or exceed the law. We also require comprehensive insurance, competitive wages, working hours and numerous other safeguards for our delivery service providers and regularly audit to ensure compliance," the company said.

Protesting warehouse workers have repeatedly accused Amazon of unfair working conditions. Allegations have also recently emerged from warehouse workers who say they were forced to choose between their jobs and their military service. 

The senators' letter follows fast on the heels of a reported antitrust probe by the Federal Trade Commission, and an Aug. 29 letter from three other senators, who called on Bezos to conduct a "sweeping internal investigation" into unsafe and banned products listed on Amazon's website.