Prime members complain that Amazon Music is ‘unusable’ and in ‘shambles’ after the ability to select individual songs was removed unless they pay $9 a month

The Amazon Music and Spotify app icons on an iPhone, with a user tapping the Amazon icon.
Amazon Music expanded its music catalog in an attempt to beat out rivals like Spotify.

  • Amazon Music recently added 98 million songs to the platform to capitalize on an increase in demand.
  • But Prime members can only play individual songs if they upgrade to Amazon Music Unlimited for $9 a month.
  • Some Amazon Music users are posting to Twitter and LinkedIn to criticize the update.

Amazon Music recently added 98 million songs to the streaming platform’s music library free of charge with no ads for Prime members. But some users are not happy. 

Before the music catalog expansion, Amazon Prime members could access up to two million songs to stream through a simple search, and download songs for offline listening with no internet service. But with the new update, the music can only be played in shuffle mode, which means that users cannot play individual songs from artists, albums, or playlists. To do so, users must spend $9 dollars a month extra on Amazon Music Unlimited. 

Such changes are riling up some Amazon music users who are going to Twitter to complain over the loss of certain features.

One user tweeted at Amazon Help asking for a partial refund because she lost all of the music that she purchased prior to the update. “Your music app is now unusable,” she tweeted. “I might as well turn on the radio.”

Another user tweeted that the platform is in “absolute shambles” after his daughter’s Amazon echo smart speaker started playing random songs on shuffle. 

Amazon Music users are also expressing their frustrations over LinkedIn. Some said that their playlists have disappeared and that they cannot replay songs. Others were so frustrated with the update that they said they dropped Amazon Music entirely to stream music on rival platforms like Spotify and Pandora.

An Amazon spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment ahead of publication.

Amazon expanded its music catalog to capitalize on an increased demand for a wider music selection among current members, Jamil Ghani, vice president of Amazon Prime, told the Wall Street Journal. Launched in 2007, Amazon Music jumped from 2 million to more than 68 million users globally, which is 10% of the total music streaming market, according to data from Earthweb.

Still, the number of Amazon Music users fall behind its rivals. Apple Music, in comparison, has 88 million users and Spotify has 433 million.

 

 

 

 

 

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The sister of an Amazon warehouse worker who died in the tornado said she’s furious ‘the richest company in the world can’t keep their employees safe’

Clayton Cope.
Clayton Cope.

  • The sister of one of the Amazon warehouse tornado victims said the e-commerce giant failed its employees.
  • “The richest company in the world can’t keep their employees safe,” Rachel Cope, the sister of Clayton Cope, told Insider. 
  • Clayton was one of six workers killed after a tornado ripped through a company warehouse in Illinois.

The sister of one of the Amazon workers who was killed when a tornado ripped through a company warehouse in Illinois said Tuesday that she was furious that the trillion-dollar e-commerce giant couldn’t keep its employees safe.

“I’m angry,” Rachel Cope, 28, the younger sister of 29-year-old Clayton Cope, told Insider. “The richest company in the world can’t keep their employees safe.”

“That’s just disgusting,” Rachel railed. 

Clayton, a US Navy veteran and maintenance mechanic for Amazon, was one of the six employees killed after a tornado devastated a massive delivery site in Edwardsville, IL on Friday night and caused the roof of the building to collapse. 

“All [Amazon] cared about was making sure that people’s Christmas presents got delivered,” said Rachel.

amazon warehouse illinois
Recovery operations continue after the partial collapse of an Amazon Fulfillment Center in Edwardsville, Illinois on December 12, 2021.

Clayton was in contact with his and Rachel’s dad — who works at the same Amazon warehouse, but was not working that night — after the first tornado sirens went off shortly after 8 p.m. on Friday, according to Rachel.

“My dad was on the phone with [Clayton] and telling him to get to the shelter” inside of the 1.1-million-square-foot warehouse, said Rachel, explaining that Clayton initially refused because he said wanted to warn others of the looming danger. 

Rachel added, “My brother was saying ‘no, there’s a ton of drivers that are coming back and I need to go warn them to get inside and get to the shelter because they don’t know where to go.”

Shortly after the building collapsed. 

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment by Insider on Tuesday, but said in a previous statement that management at the Edwardsville facility “acted incredibly quickly” to get workers into a designated ground-level shelter at the site. 

“There was a small group who took shelter in a part of the building that was then directly impacted by the tornado, and this is where most of the tragic loss of life occurred,” Amazon said. 

Employees had just minutes of warning before the roof of the building collapsed, the company had said.

A manager who survived the disaster told the Cope family that he saw Clayton “physically helping people get to the shelter” amid a “frantic” situation before the tornado hit, Rachel said. 

“My brother was a hero,” she said. “He was a really, really, really good guy. He was the kind of guy that would do anything for anybody.”

Rachel, who said she previously worked at a nearby Amazon warehouse for over a year, said that the company should have been better prepared. 

“They’re a company that is known for not caring about their employees,” she said, claiming Amazon treats its employees as “replaceable.”

“And that’s how they’ll feel about my brother,” Rachel said. “They’ll feel he’s replaceable. They don’t care.”

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What the union drives at Starbucks and Amazon mean for labor rights across the US

Starbucks workers unionizing in Buffalo
Union drives at Starbucks and Amazon have put a spotlight on labor movements across the country.

  • The labor victories at Amazon and Starbucks are bringing national attention to unions across the US.
  • John Logan, professor at San Francisco State University, says unions have returned to the mainstream.
  • He says these movements could help increase public and political support for stronger labor laws. 

Union drives have suddenly become hot news.

In a closely watched Nov. 29, 2021, decision, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that Amazon had committed serious violations of federal labor law during a union campaign at a warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama. In the decision, the NLRB attacked Amazon’s “flagrant disregard” for election rules, saying it “essentially hijacked the process.” The online retail giant won the union vote, held earlier this year, by a 2-1 margin but will now be forced into a do-over election.

Meanwhile in Buffalo, New York, baristas at Starbucks voted to unionize on Dec. 9, making them the coffee chain’s only unionized workforce in the United States in what has been touted as a “watershed” moment.

As a labor scholar who has tracked unionization efforts for 20 years, I believe we could be on the cusp of a new labor relations order, spurred in large part by increased media and public interest generated by these high-profile campaigns.

The organizing drive at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama by the Retail, Wholesale Department Store Union from January to March 2021 was one of the most closely watched union campaigns in decades. It generated media coverage of Amazon’s anti-union behavior and even arguably helped revive the so-called “labor beat” in newsrooms after years of languishing.

The NLRB decision provided negative headlines for Amazon. “Amazon made ‘free and fair’ Bessemer union election ‘impossible,’ labor official rules,” ran the headline of the Alabama news site Al.com. The Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post ran with: “Labor board calls for revote at Amazon warehouse in Alabama in major victory for union.”

Even if it were to win the second ballot without violating the law, Amazon is highly sensitive about negative media, and company officials will likely loathe any coverage of another high-profile union election.

Labor rights go mainstream

The NLRB order itself was arguably less interesting — despite its huge potential significance at Amazon — than the fact that it resulted in lengthy articles in several major media outlets.

Over the past year or so, organized labor has seemingly entered the mainstream again. It follows decades of apparent dwindling interest in union drives in the public sphere. A Google Ngram — which charts the use of terms in publications — shows a decline in the appearance of “unionization” and “union drive” from the late 1970s to the late 2010s.

Labor organizing terms have dwindled in publications.

This decline correlates with the growing weakness of unions over that period: Unions represent only 10.8% of American workers today, down from 20% four decades ago.

Into this decline has come a recent wave of positive press for unions. It corresponds to almost record-high rates of public approval in unions. In fact, at 68%, support for unions is at its highest level since 1965. In addition, most Americans think union decline has hurt working people.

Labor law reform

The issue of labor rights has seemingly garnered the nation’s attention like nothing I have seen in my lifetime or even in the past half-century. And growing awareness of the issue could have an impact on efforts to improve the legislative environment for unionizing.

A recent poll found that 59% of respondents supported strengthening labor laws through proposals such as penalizing companies that retaliate against workers trying to unionize and eliminating “right-to-work” laws that allow employees to benefit from union contracts without paying dues.

In the past, lack of public awareness has helped torpedo labor law reform campaigns. In 2009-2010, during the campaign for the Employee Free Choice Act, it was rare to encounter anyone without a professional labor interest who had ever heard of the legislation, which attracted only lackluster support from the Obama White House and died in the Senate.

At present, the Biden-supported legislation aimed at strengthening the right to choose a union, the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, is firmly on the back burner despite support from a majority of voters.

In the face of opposition from Republicans and three Democrats, the legislation is seen as a long shot in the Senate, which historically has been the graveyard for labor reforms. The PRO Act might similarly die there, although pro-union advocates hope that meaningful financial penalties for employer violations will at least make it into the $2 trillion Build Back Better bill.

For the PRO Act to become a live proposition, it would likely need to convert its popular support into pressure on members of Congress.

This is the only way, in my view, to achieve meaningful change and make unionizing easier.

Headlines that focus on the coercive power that big corporations like Amazon exert over workers participating in elections could go some way to bolster support for union drives.

Labor is hot

Unions are set to continue to be a talking point in the national media with the Starbucks vote.

The coffee chain had been engaged in what was been described as “aggressive” anti-union tactics ahead of the vote, including forcing employees to attend mandatory anti-union meetings. Although it involves only a few dozen workers, the Workers United-SEIU union victory at Starbucks in Buffalo is seen as one of the most important labor organizing victories in several decades.

Corporate America has employed brutal anti-union campaigns for decades. What has changed, from my perspective, is that such activities are now seen as newsworthy — at least when the companies involved are household names.

This coverage provides a stark contrast with past media coverage, which often depicted unionized workers as “overpaid, greedy, and undeserving of their wealth.”

In the words of a New York Times article on Nov. 7, 2021, the “media loves labor now.”

Talking union

In addition to Amazon and Starbucks, in recent months an expanding number and variety of employees have been talking about forming unions at their own workplaces. In the past few months alone we have seen media, tech, and museum workers form unions and either stage or threaten strikes.

Coverage of the union campaign at Amazon is one reason talk of unionizing is seemingly spreading. But there are other factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic, which has spurred numerous labor fights — big and small — and safety struggles by Amazon warehouse workers and Amazon-owned Whole Foods workers. Meanwhile, the advent of social media has made it easier to create buzz around pro-union campaigns, such as the recent “#Striketober” hashtag campaign.

Organizing, it appears, can be contagious — under the right conditions.

Seizing the moment?

It’s not yet clear that unions and their allies can capitalize on this apparent newfound public attention and convert it into increased membership levels or changes in legislation.

But I believe we are at a unique moment in US labor history. The question is, will unions take advantage of the increased media attention — and the negative headlines for high-profile companies attempting to quash workers’ rights — and spur a new era of labor activism?

The Conversation

John Logan, professor and director of labor and employment studies, San Francisco State University

The Conversation
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Some Amazon workers say the company never offered them disaster training, report says

A satellite image shows the aftermath of a tornado in Edwardsville, Illinois, which destroyed hundred of yards of an Amazon facility, killing at least six people.
A satellite image shows the aftermath of a tornado in Edwardsville, Illinois, which destroyed hundred of yards of an Amazon facility and killed at least six people.

  • A tornado ripped through an Amazon warehouse in Illinois last Friday, killing six people. 
  • It prompted some Amazon workers across the US to complain about the company’s lack of safety drills.
  • 12 workers told The Intercept the company offered either little or zero such training.

Some Amazon workers across the country are coming out to say the company never offered them disaster training, The Intercept reported.

The comments came after a tornado ripped through an Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois, last week, causing the building to partially collapse and killing at least six employees.

In the days following the collapse, workers posted on Amazon’s internal “Voice of Associates” messaging board to complain about workplace safety, The Intercept reported. The outlet obtained some of these posts and also spoke to 12 Amazon employees, all of whom requested anonymity.

Most employees told the outlet they had never participated in a tornado drill or even a fire drill during their time at Amazon. Others told The Intercept they wouldn’t know what to do in case of an emergency.

“I have been here six and a half years and have never once been involved in a tornado safety drill on my shift, as well as have not taken part in a fire safety drill in about two years,” one employee who works at an Indiana fulfillment center posted on the messaging board, The Intercept reported.

A few workers said they had participated in safety drills on their shifts, but said the trainings usually felt rushed and disordered, The Intercept reported. Others said they were told the drills had been put on hold because of COVID-19, the outlet said.

The Intercept also cited LeeAnn Webster, a former employee who worked on the safety committee at a Kent, Washington, fulfilment center, as saying the drills were not conducted because it would cost the company “a lot of money to stop production long enough to do it.”

Amazon did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. Kelly Nantel, an Amazon spokesperson, told The Intercept in a statement: “Emergency response training is provided to new employees and that training is reinforced throughout the year.”

In a Monday statement to Insider, Amazon said the facility only had a few minutes of warning before the tornado hit the facility, and that the tornado most likely formed in the facility’s parking lot before ripping through the warehouse and disappearing in an “incredibly fast” amount of time. 

It also suggested that most of the workers who died in the tornado were not sheltering in the designated location.

“There was a small group who took shelter in a part of the building that was then directly impacted by the tornado, and this is where most of the tragic loss of life occurred,” Amazon said.

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration opened a workplace-safety investigation into the site on Monday.

On Monday, John Felton, a senior vice president of global delivery services for Amazon, also promised a review and said there was “a tremendous effort that happened that night to keep everybody safe,” The Guardian reported.

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These are the 50 top stocks that members of Congress own

Reps. Josh Gottheimer, Sara Jacobs, Van Taylor, and Susie Lee in front of Exxon Mobil, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft lgoos.
  • More than 220 members of Congress held individual stocks in 2020.
  • We analyzed hundreds of congressional financial disclosures to find the most popular investments.
  • Apple was the most popular, with Microsoft, Disney, Alphabet, and Amazon close behind.

More than 40% of members in Congress, or more than 220 representatives and senators, own individual stocks, collectively holding at least $225 million in stock assets, Insider has found.

Those in Congress are prohibited from using insider information to profit from the stock market. But it is legal for them to buy and sell individual stocks — a policy that can result in potential conflicts of interest in legislators’ financial dealings.

Tech stocks were the most popular

Those in Congress favor tech stocks, Insider’s analysis showed. Apple, the top stock and one of the hottest investments in recent years, was held by 72 members, or more than 13% of Congress.

Microsoft, the second-most-popular stock, was held by 64 members, followed by Disney and Alphabet, tied with 45 owners. Close behind was Amazon, owned by 44 members.

Together, the five companies spent $48 million on lobbying in 2020, according to OpenSecrets. PACs linked to the five companies along with the companies’ employees made an estimated $89.9 million in federal political contributions during the 2020 election cycle, which includes the calendar year 2019.

 

Leading investments include big lobbying forces, from pharma to oil to defense

Pharmaceutical and biotechnology giants are also popular investments for elected officials.

Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer, the makers of COVID-19 vaccines, were the most-held pharmaceutical stocks in Congress in 2020, owned by 44 and 37 members, respectively.

Congress’ stock trades in particular are worthy of scrutiny. Despite a law requiring members to quickly and publicly disclose when they buy and sell stocks and corporate bonds, Insider found that many have failed to comply, often disclosing trades late, if at all.

Lawmakers’ personal financial interests sometimes intersect with their public duties.

Reps. Robert Wittman, a Republican from Virginia, and Steve Cohen, a Democrat from Tennessee, owned Exxon Mobil stock. Both lawmakers sit on the House Committee on Natural Resources, which is responsible for overseeing various elements of the fossil-fuels industry. Overall, 36 members of Congress owned Exxon Mobil stock in 2020, making it the 12th-most-owned stock in Congress.

Insider also discovered that some members of Congress held stocks that their committees have direct influence over, such as 15 members sitting on the House and Senate Armed Services committees who are simultaneously invested in defense contractors.

Shares of Alibaba, a multinational Chinese tech firm with ties to the country’s ruling Communist Party, were owned by 20 members of Congress, including Republican Sens. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama and Roger Marshall of Kansas, two outspoken critics of China’s government. Both senators this year violated the federal Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act of 2012 by not properly disclosing some of their stock trades.

 

How we analyzed Congress’ financial disclosures 

Insider this autumn collected and analyzed financial disclosures filed by each member of Congress, making them searchable and sortable whereas they previously were not. Covering 2020 — a year in which the world’s richest people witnessed their fortunes grow substantially — the reports provide the most recent comprehensive overview of each member’s financial assets.

They revealed at least $2.6 billion in wealth held by federal legislators.

Senate and House members file their disclosures in different formats. Insider used natural-language-processing software — including an algorithm that analyzes text — to help determine the most commonly traded stocks in the House.

Insider’s analysis did not include four members of Congress whose disclosures were uniquely complicated, incomplete, illegible, or long, comprising hundreds of pages of handwritten or scanned documents. Those members are Democratic Reps. Ro Khanna of California, Vicente Gonzalez of Texas, and Kurt Schrader of Oregon, and Republican Rep. Harold Rogers of Kentucky. A cursory review of their filings showed that Khanna, Schrader, and Rogers held extensive stock portfolios, and that they or immediate family members frequently traded individual stocks in 2020.

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Amazon workers trapped during deadly tornado had just minutes of warning before roof collapsed, company says

The collapsed roof of an distribution centre after tornadoes
The site of a roof collapse at an Amazon distribution center in Edwardsville, Illinois a day after a series of tornadoes dealt a blow to several U.S. states.

  • Amazon workers had minutes of warning before a tornado ripped through the warehouse, the company said.
  • The Illinois facility got tornado warnings Friday between 8:06 p.m. and 8:16 p.m. At 8:27 p.m., the tornado struck.
  • Six workers were confirmed dead after the collapse, local police had announced.

The Amazon employees who were working at an Illinois warehouse when a deadly tornado tore through the facility had just minutes of warning before the roof of the building collapsed, the e-commerce giant said Monday. 

The company said that the Amazon delivery station in the city of Edwardsville received tornado warnings between 8:06 p.m. and 8:16 p.m. on Friday and site leaders directed workers inside to “immediately take shelter.”

Minutes later, at 8:27 p.m., the devastating tornado roared through the 1.1 million-square-foot facility, causing the roof to collapse, Amazon said. 

Six workers were confirmed dead after the collapse, local police had announced. 

According to Amazon, the tornado appeared to have formed in the parking lot of the facility, ripped through the warehouse, and then disappeared in an “incredibly fast” amount of time. 

Management at the warehouse worked to get employees inside into a tornado shelter at the site and the “majority” of workers did take shelter there, the company said. 

“There was a small group who took shelter in a part of the building that was then directly impacted by the tornado, and this is where most of the tragic loss of life occurred,” Amazon said.

The victims were identified as Austin J. McEwen, 26; Deandre S. Morrow, 28; Kevin D. Dickey, 62; Clayton Lynn Cope, 29; Etheria S. Hebb, 24; and 46-year-old Larry E. Virden. 

Forty-five people made it out of the wreckage safely, officials have said. 

“My heart is broken,” Emily Epperson, 23, a driver at the Edwardsville warehouse and friend of McEwen, who was also a driver, told Insider on Monday. “I’m a little at a loss for words.”

Epperson had planned to pick up an extra shift on Friday, but “at the last moment” did not, sparing herself from the disaster. 

“In Illinois, we have these tornadoes and these random storms all of the time, so I don’t think anyone really could have imagined the severity of it,” she said. “I think it was just such a regular day to everyone that no one even thought twice until the tornado sirens went off.”

Epperson said that she heard from other co-workers who were at the warehouse that night that when the tornado sirens went off “everyone was told to go to a storm shelter that we have there.”

“Some people chose to go home and some people chose to go to the shelter,” she said. “I’m sure there were some people that didn’t make it or didn’t know what to do.”

One of Epperson’s co-workers told her that he “witnessed the roof being peeled off of the building and we believe that’s what caused one of the walls to collapse initially.”

Epperson said she went to the Amazon warehouse the next day when her pal, McEwen, had been missing for about 13 hours. 

“Everything was in ruins,” Epperson said, adding that she learned from McEwen’s best friend while she was at the site that McEwen was among the dead. 

Speaking of McEwen, Epperson said, “He would light up any room that he walked into and he was the most down to earth person you would ever meet.”

“He was a very good friend, co-worker and person in general,” she said. 

In a statement to Insider, an Amazon spokesperson said, “We’re deeply saddened by the news that members of our Amazon family passed away as a result of the storm in Edwardsville, IL.”

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their loved ones, and everyone impacted by the tornado. We also want to thank all the first responders for their ongoing efforts on scene. We’re continuing to provide support to our employees and partners in the area,” the company said.

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An Amazon driver died while sheltering in the warehouse bathroom when a tornado hit, his colleague said

The collapsed roof of an distribution centre after tornadoes
The site of partially collapsed Amazon distribution center after a tornado in Edwardsville, Illinois.

  • Austin J. McEwen is among the six people killed after a tornado hit an Amazon warehouse in Illinois.
  • Brian Erdmann told Reuters that McEwen was sheltering in the bathroom when it happened.
  • Erdmann said he likely only survived because he was out making a delivery.

An Amazon driver died while sheltering in the warehouse bathroom as a tornado hit Illinois, his colleague told Reuters.

Austin J. McEwen, 26, was one of at least six Amazon employees who died after a wall and a roof collapsed on Friday night, trapping workers inside.

“He was my friend and he didn’t make it,” Brian Erdmann said of McEwen in an interview with Reuters.

Erdmann said he was on his way to the warehouse to make a delivery when the tornado hit, so he was not harmed.

“If I would have got back 45 minutes earlier, I probably would have been at the same place. I would have been right there with him,” he said.

Amazon did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Amazon staff have complained about the company’s cellphone ban when speaking to Bloomberg after the disaster.

Multiple tornadoes hit Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee.

Kentucky has been the most impacted. Gov. Andy Beshear said on Sunday that at least 80 people were killed, and the death toll could exceed 100.

He then said, according to the BBC: “We’re still hoping as we move forward for some miracles to find more people.”

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Amazon employees speak out against controversial phone ban after deadly tornado kills at least 6 warehouse workers in Edwardsville, Illinois

Workers removed debris after a tornado destroys an Amazon warehouse in Illinois.
Workers remove debris from an Amazon Fulfillment Center in Edwardsville, Illinois, on December 11, 2021, after it was hit by a tornado.

  • Amazon workers are pushing back against a phone ban after six employees died when a warehouse collapsed in Illinois. 
  • The long-running policy had been relaxed during the pandemic, but is being reinstated around the country. 
  • “After these deaths, there is no way in hell I am relying on Amazon to keep me safe,” a staffer told Bloomberg.

Amazon employees are speaking out about the return of a controversial mobile phone ban after devastating tornadoes ripped through the Midwest on Friday, destroying an Illinois warehouse and killing at least six employees. 

Though the e-commerce giant had previously relaxed its strict rules prohibiting phones on the warehouse floor during the pandemic, it has been slowly reintroducing the ban across the country, Bloomberg reported. Amazon initially revoked the protocol to allow for staffers to get in touch with loved ones or health care providers in case of emergency.

However, as the ban returns to Amazon locations, several employees told Bloomberg they are once again questioning the policy and expressing fear for their safety after the collapse of an Edwardsville, Illinois, warehouse left at least six workers dead and an unknown number missing on Friday. 

Edwardsville officials reported that a wall the size of a football field and the roof above it collapsed at the warehouse when severe storms hit the region, leaving an unidentified number of Amazon employees trapped among the rubble.

Rescue crews arrived on the scene immediately, where one worker was airlifted to a nearby hospital and 45 staffers were evacuated from the ruins, according to Edwardsville fire chief James Whiteford. Whiteford said he expects the recovery effort to continue for an additional three days. 

In Kentucky, which bore the brunt of the tornadoes, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said on Sunday he feared at least 80 people were killed, but the death toll may surpass 100. In addition to Illinois and Kentucky, the storms also tore through parts of Arkansas, Tennessee, and Missouri. 

Amazon staffers speaking to Bloomberg expressed concern that banning phones would leave them incapable of quickly calling for help or accessing information about imminent storms or other dangerous conditions that might put them in peril.

“After these deaths, there is no way in hell I am relying on Amazon to keep me safe,” an Amazon worker from a nearby facility in Illinois told Bloomberg. “If they institute the no cell phone policy, I am resigning.”

“After this, everyone is definitely afraid of not being able to keep their phones on them,” another worker told Bloomberg. “Most employees that I’ve talked to don’t keep their phones on them for personal conversation throughout the day, It’s genuinely for situations like this.”

Warehouse Workers for Justice, an organization that works to organize Amazon workers in Illinois, said in a statement that it is calling on state legislators to hold a hearing to ensure all facilities “are places of safety for workers and that no family has to worry whether or not their loved ones will make it home from work after an extreme weather event.” 

“While natural disasters are not controllable, Amazon’s preparedness and safety protocols are,” Warehouse Workers for Justice said in the statement. 

Amazon did not immediately respond to Insider’s request to comment on the phone ban and if it has plans to readjust the policy. In a statement yesterday, a representative for Amazon said the company was “deeply saddened by the news” of the Illinois warehouse. 

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their loved ones, and everyone impacted by the storm,” the Amazon representative said. “We also want to thank all the first responders for their ongoing efforts on scene.”

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos wrote on Twitter on Saturday night that he was “heartbroken over the loss,” a statement that came following criticism that the executive had been late to comment on the tragedy. Earlier in the day, Bezos shared a photo to Instagram with the Blue Origin space crew, the next team to board the New Shepard rocket. 

“All of Edwardsville should know that the Amazon team is committed to supporting them and will be by their side through this crisis,” Bezos wrote on Twitter. “We extend our fullest gratitude to all the incredible first responders who have worked so tirelessly at the site.”

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Jeff Bezos criticized for celebrating Blue Origin launch before addressing Amazon warehouse collapse

Jeff Bezos wearing cowboy hat and space suit at Blue Origin rocket launch
Jeff Bezos.

  • Jeff Bezos faced criticism over his response to the deadly Amazon warehouse collapse. 
  • He posted a photo on Instagram of Blue Origin space passengers in the aftermath of the incident.
  • Several hours later, he acknowledged the disaster, which he described as “tragic.”

Jeff Bezos has come under fire for a late response to the deadly Amazon warehouse collapse that occurred on Friday night in severe weather conditions.

Insider’s Bethany Dawson and Kelsey Vlamis reported that at least six workers died and an unknown number are missing after the incident in Edwardsville, Illinois.

As the situation unfolded, Bezos was celebrating the third launch of Blue Origin’s human spaceflight, which successfully flew six passengers to the edge of space and back.

He posted a photo on Instagram of the six-member crew smiling before they flew to space. “Happy crew this morning in the training center…” Bezos captioned the post.

Several hours later, the Amazon founder then tweeted: “The news from Edwardsville is tragic. We’re heartbroken over the loss of our teammates there, and our thoughts and prayers are with their families and loved ones.”

He added: “All of Edwardsville should know that the Amazon team is committed to supporting them and will be by their side through this crisis.” 

Amazon and Jeff Bezos did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. 

But some commentators voiced anger over his response.

“SHAME ON JEFF BEZOS!!! He was in West TEXAS today! His employees lives were lost!” one person tweeted

Another Twitter user said: “Really struggling with my rage since Jeff Bezos blasted his major carbon polluting rocket this morning after Amazon workers died in a rare December tornado last night.”

At least 70 people are feared dead in Kentucky, following the overnight tornado. The death toll from the extreme weather could ultimately exceed 100 people, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said during a press conference Saturday morning.

 

 

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At least 6 are dead and more are missing in ‘mass casualty incident’ at Illinois Amazon warehouse roof collapse caused by severe weather

Emergency vehicles surround the site of an Amazon distribution warehouse with a collapsed roof, after storms hit the area of Edwardsville, Illinois, U.S. December 10, 2021.
Emergency vehicles surround the site of an Amazon distribution warehouse with a collapsed roof, after storms hit the area of Edwardsville, Illinois, U.S. December 10, 2021.

  • An Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois, collapsed Friday due to severe weather.
  • At least 6 deaths have been confirmed and an unknown number of people are still missing.
  • Officials said Saturday it is now a recovery operation as they do not expect to find more survivors.

At least six workers have died and an unknown number are missing after an Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois, collapsed Friday night due to severe weather, according to authorities.

One person was airlifted to a regional hospital and 45 people made it out of the wreckage safely, James Whiteford, the Edwardsville fire chief, said during a news conference Saturday.

“We don’t expect that anyone will be surviving at this point,” he said, adding that the rescue operation has now become a recovery operation. The recovery is expected to last an additional three day, with search being conducted during daylight hours.

The number of people who were inside the warehouse at the time of collapse is unknown. Whiteford said Amazon did not have a specific count and that there was a shift change occurring when it happened.

Officials said the collapse was caused by tornadoes and severe storms that ripped through five states: Arkansas, Illinois, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Missouri. 

Delivery vehicles with the Amazon Prime logo sit parked at a damaged Amazon.com, Inc warehouse as emergency crews respond after a tornado passed through Edwardsville, Illinois, U.S., December 10, 2021 in this still image taken from drone video obtained on December 11, 2021.
Delivery vehicles with the Amazon Prime logo sit parked at a damaged Amazon.com, Inc warehouse as emergency crews respond after a tornado passed through Edwardsville, Illinois, U.S., December 10, 2021 in this still image taken from drone video obtained on December 11, 2021.

A wall the length of a football field and the roof above it collapsed in the warehouse around 8:33 pm. Rescue teams were on-site overnight, combing through the rubble, officials said.

Amazon said it was providing support for “employees and partners in the area.”

“We’re deeply saddened by the news that members of our Amazon family passed away as a result of the storm in Edwardsville, IL,” a representative for Amazon said in a statement to Insider. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their loved ones, and everyone impacted by the storm. We also want to thank all the first responders for their ongoing efforts on scene.”

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker said at a news conference Saturday it was a “tragic day in Illinois history.”

“Everyone assumes that they’ll be safe at work,” he said, speaking to the people who lost loved ones. “Please know the people of Illinois stand with you.”

Pritzker said he spoke with President Joe Biden, who offered to provide federal assistance to help with the recovery.

Describing the warehouse during a press conference earlier on Saturday, Edwardsville Police Chief Michael Fillback said it was an “utter disaster” with a portion of the building “completely destroyed.”

More than 11 emergency service departments from surrounding areas responded to the scene. 

A few hours after the event, writing on their Facebook, the Collinsville Emergency Management Agency stated that “subjects were trapped inside” and described the event as a “mass casualty incident.” 

“Please be patient with us. Our fire personnel is doing everything they can to reunite everyone with their loved ones,” Fillback said on KMOV-TV.

A heavily damaged Amazon fulfillment center is seen Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021, in Edwardsville, Ill.
A heavily damaged Amazon fulfillment center is seen Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021, in Edwardsville, Ill.

Insider spoke to a man whose brother-in-law — an Amazon worker at the Edwardsville warehouse — was missing.

Kevin, who wishes to only go by his first name, describes rushing to the warehouse after picking up his sister and niece as fast as the speed limit let him.

“When we arrived at the area, all roads leading to the location were blocked by emergency services. We sat on the highway for three hours waiting to get to go to the location and pick him up to take him home,” Kevin told Insider. 

They then hurried to the Pontoon Beach police dept where other employees had been taken.

“We had sat here for an hour desperately calling hospitals and police departments in the area trying to locate him. Then his boss had gotten a hold of my sister to tell her that he was unaccounted for.

We kept blowing his phone up, hoping for an answer from him. We’ve called him over 100 times. No luck.” 

Kevin, his sister, and his niece are now waiting to hear any news, but he tells Insider that he believes his brother-in-law is dead.

FOX2 spoke to the stepson of an Amazon worker who was missing. 

“Our mother is basically hysterical at this point, trying to find out what’s going on. She’s really worried. We’re worried too. At this point, I’m starting to get pretty scared that he got hurt or worse.” said Connor Jones.

Two maps highlighting the damaged Amazon warehouse, one showing it in the context of the wider midwest, and one in the context of Illinois
Two maps highlighting the damaged Amazon warehouse, one showing it in the context of the wider midwest, and one in the context of Illinois

Reuters spoke to Sarah Bierman, who was waiting at the warehouse for her husband, an Amazon employee at the site.

She told a reporter that she hadn’t heard from him since the collapse. 

“I just heard through the news and we live in Edwardsville; we lost power. So I decided to come down here to see what was going on, and I had no idea the building looked that bad. And I’m just I’m worried sick,” she said.

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