Warehouse Worker Protection Act Introduced in Senate
Warehouse Worker Protection Act Introduced in Senate

While Teamsters applaud bill, Wholesalers Distributors association opposes it.

On May 2, Senators Ed Markey (D-MA), Tina Smith (D-MN) and Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced The Warehouse Worker Protection Act. In the coming weeks a bipartisan House version of the bill is expected to be introduced.

This bill would become a federal standard as there are similar laws in California, New York, Washington and Minnesota.

The aim of the bill, as characterized by a release from the Teamsters, is to hold “Amazon accountable for its dangerous safety practices and abusive production quotas.”

The bill will require large warehouse employers to disclose quotas to workers, The Teamsters note that this requirement would “prevent those quotas from interfering with workers' health and safety, such as rest and bathroom breaks.” It would also direct the Department of Labor to create new rules requiring safe warehouse design and ensuring injured workers have access to outside doctors.

Some are referring to this bill as the Amazon bill due to the issues at its facilities. Injury rates at Amazon facilities are more than twice the rate of other companies, as reported in 2022. (The report analyzed data from the company and OSHA.) The Teamsters say these injuries are caused by “forcing its workers to comply with arbitrary and unrealistic production quotas.” OSHA has cited Amazon for dangerous warehouse practices.

“Amazon has perfected a punishing quota system that pushes workers to and beyond their physical limits,” Markey, who is a member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee’s Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety, said at a press conference announcing the bill, as reported by CNBC.

The National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors (NAW) doesn’t view the bill this way and on May 2 Brian Wild, chief government relations officer, released the following statement:

“This bill represents a costly and unnecessary threat to the U.S. economy, especially for wholesaler-distributors and small businesses. The bill’s quota requirements will negatively affect productivity across the supply chain, leading to delays and price hikes for consumers. It creates an unnecessary 'Fairness and Transparency Office' within the Department of Labor, further entangling businesses in bureaucratic red tape and stifling their ability to expand and generate jobs.

“The bill includes provisions that inappropriately tip the scales to union bosses at the expense of employees and employers by inviting labor organizations to participate in the investigations, essentially granting union leaders access to potentially coerce or harass worksites under the guise of 'worker safety.'

“Finally, it revives the failed ergonomics standard, which was already invalidated by Congress in a bipartisan majority. The reasons behind the disapproval remain unchanged today.”