Skip to main content
May 29, 2024

Amazon warehouse working conditions proposal gets significant backing

Resolution seeks independent audit

A shareholder proposal seeking a report on warehouse working conditions received the backing of almost a third of votes at’s AGM last week.

The proposal, filed by Tulipshare Capital, requests that Amazon’s board ‘commission an independent audit and report of the working conditions and treatment that Amazon warehouse workers face, including the impact of its policies, management, performance metrics and targets.’ It was backed by 31.2 percent of votes cast – not a majority but a level of support governance experts generally regard as significant.

Tulipshare writes in its supporting statement: ‘Investigative reports allege a ‘mounting injury crisis at Amazon warehouses’, with [company] employees getting injured more frequently and severely than elsewhere in the industry.’ According to the proponent, an independent report is needed because the company’s reporting downplays the issue.

‘Despite Amazon’s serious injuries decreasing between 2021 and 2022, its overall injuries increased,’ Tulipshare writes. ‘[The company] reported 39,000 total injuries at its US facilities in 2022, more than double the rate at non-Amazon warehouses. Amazon’s warehouse conditions are not only a danger to employee safety, but also to the stability of its workforce.’

In addition, the proponent states: ‘Amazon workers are closely monitored for their work productivity, with employees alleging that the pressure to meet quotas under threat of termination can lead to injury and burnout. New laws in California and New York target Amazon’s use of productivity quotas that can prevent workers from complying with safety guidelines or recovering from strenuous activity, leaving them at high risk of injury and illness.’

Antoine Argouges, CEO and founder of Tulipshare, says in a statement: ‘The widespread demand for improved treatment of Amazon’s workers is underscored by global legislative pressure and increasing strikes. An independent audit of [the company’s] working conditions is essential to hold [it] accountable and ensure the safety and fair treatment of its workforce…

‘Ignoring these issues exposes the company and its investors to serious legal, financial and reputational risks, as well as higher injury and employee turnover rates. We plan to meet with Amazon as soon as possible to continue our engagement and will not relent until we see tangible improvements in working conditions for its warehouse workers.’

Board opposition
Amazon’s board had recommended that shareholders vote against the proposal, writing in the company’s proxy statement: ‘Our board and management recognize the importance of workplace safety and the right to a safe work environment. As reinforced in our most recent safety reporting for 2023, our goal is to be the safest workplace within the industries in which we operate.

‘As we also reaffirmed in our Amazon Global Human Rights Principles, we strive to be the most safety-centric organization in the world. This includes providing a clean, safe and healthy work environment where the health and safety of our workers is what we value the most.’

The board argued that an audit requested by the proposal would be ‘duplicative’ because Amazon already discloses workforce incident rates compared with industry data and the company faces extensive regulatory oversight and review.

Amazon argued that the proposal’s claims that the company’s injury rates are significantly higher than the industry average are incorrect. ‘The asserted ‘industry average’ those claims use for comparison actually represents only a small subset of the companies with businesses similar to ours and is not an official or accurate industry average,’ the board wrote. It also stated that, contrary to the proponent’s claim, the company does not require employees to meet specific productivity quotas.

In addition, Amazon stated that its board, including through its leadership development and compensation committee, has direct oversight of employee well-being and workplace safety and ‘regularly reviews these matters.’

An Amazon spokesperson had no further comment.

Ben Maiden

Ben Maiden is the editor-at-large of Governance Intelligence, an IR Media publication, having joined the company in December 2016. He is based in New York. Ben was previously managing editor of Compliance Reporter, covering regulatory and compliance...