Texts Reveal Amazon Managers Told Workers to Keep Going As Fatal Tornado Hit Illinois Warehouse
Text messages sent from Amazon warehouse managers to drivers delivering packages from the Big Tech giant’s Edwardsville, Illinois facility reveal the company refused to allow drivers to seek shelter as a fatal tornado rolled into the area.
Six Amazon warehouse workers were killed by a tornado that struck swathes of Illinois and Kentucky last weekend, with text messages from one Iraq War veteran employed at the Edwardsville Amazon warehouse- a man who was killed in the disaster- revealing the company refused to send the workers home even as tornado warnings became apparent.
Now, even more text messages published by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch show that Amazon overseers directed a delivery driver to continue working as the driver questioned their own safety. In one text message, the driver expressed their concern that the Amazon delivery van would become their “casket.”
Amazon Dispatch first denied a request from the driver to return to the facility, thirty minutes before the tornado touched Edwardsville.
Dispatch: Just keep delivering for now. We have to wait for word from Amazon. If we need to bring people back, the decision will ultimately be up to them. I will let you know if the situation changes at all. I’m talking with them now about it.
Driver: How about for my own personal safety, I’m going to head back. Having alarms going off next to me and nothing but locked building around me isn’t sheltering in place. That’s wanting to turn this van into a casket. Hour left of delivery time. And if you look at the radar, the worst of the storm is going to be right on top of me in 30 minutes.
Dispatch: If you decided to come back, that choice is yours. But I can tell you it won’t be viewed as for your own safety. The safest practice is to stay exactly where you are. If you decide to return with your packages, it will be viewed as you refusing your route, which will ultimately end with you not having a job come tomorrow morning. The sirens are just a warning.
An Amazon spokesperson threw the manager under the bus in a canned statement delivered to the Post-Dispatch, pinning off the seriously negligent and hazardous demand as just the decision of an underling. Amazon’s workplace practices are some of the most criticized in the western world, with the multibillion dollar Big Tech company having practically perfected a model of workplace surveillance and computerized management.
More than 70 people were killed in Kentucky alone by the tornadoes, which amount to one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the two states.
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