Amazon, candle factory managers under fire for tornado deaths – National & International News – TUE 14Dec2021

DLI4, the Amazon facility where a tornado killed 6 workers Friday in Edwardsville, Ill. Questions are being raised about worker safety here and a candle factory in Kentucky.



Amazon, candle factory under fire for workers’ tornado deaths. Thompson: Meadows told Jan. 6 committee to “pound sand”. Record 100°F in Arctic.




Amazon, candle factory under fire for workers’ tornado deaths

When a cluster of tornados struck the South and Midwest Friday evening, employees at a candle factory in Mayfield, KY, and an Amazon distribution center in Edwardsville, IL, were still hard at work. After tornados flattened the Mayfield factory and part of the Edwardsville facility, 8 candle factory employs were dead and another 8 unaccounted for; at least 6 Amazon employees also lost their lives. Now, management at both factories are facing questions from survivors and loved ones about what if any steps they took to ensure worker safety during the storm.

Candle factory workers say they were told they’d be fired if they left

According to several surviving Mayfield workers, a group of about 15 employees had asked to go home early after the first tornado alarm had sounded, but were told by management they would likely be fired if they did.

McKayla Emery, 21, had preferred to stay and earn overtime. That decision nearly cost her her life. When the second tornado hit, she was struck to the ground and was not rescued for several hours. Emery remains in hospital with several serious health complications resulting from her injuries. From her hospital bed, Emery says she overheard a manager telling several employees, “’If you leave, you’re more than likely to be fired’. I heard that with my own ears”.

Elijah Johnson, 20, says, “I asked to leave and they told me I’d be fired”. Johnson says he then asked the manager, “Even with the weather like this, you’re still going to fire me?”, to which the manager responded, “Yes”. Johnson says that management even conducted a roll call after the discussion to identify any workers who had disregarded the threats and left.

Bob Ferguson, a spokesman for Mayfield Consumer Products, says these allegations are “absolutely untrue”. 

Amazon workers and victims’ loved ones take company to task

Amazon has a long history of putting productivity and profit over worker welfare. At the time the tornado hit, not only was the Edwardsville facility fully operational, a shift change was underway, meaning more workers were in the building than usual. This despite more than 36 hours of tornado warnings.

Workers both from Edwardsville and other nearby Amazon facilities spoke to NBC anonymously for fear of retaliation. The workers say that Amazon’s tornado readiness policy is sorely lacking in these sprawling facilities, with few if any drills conducted. They also say the company routinely expects them to work through tornados. Workers receive very little warning of nearby tornados, giving them little time to “shelter in place” in designated areas. Even those “designated areas” may not offer sufficient protection. Both OSHA and the state of Illinois have launched investigations of possible structural deficiencies at DLI4, the building that collapsed. Amazon driver Austin J. McEwen, 26, died in a bathroom where workers say they’d been told to shelter after receiving emergency alerts on their cell phones.

Workers say that Amazon plans to reinstate a ban on workers carrying cell phones, effective January 1. Without their cell phones, many of the Edwardsville workers would have had little if any warning. One worker, Clayton Cope, 29, had no warning until his mother called him. Cope, a decorated Navy veteran, said he would warn his colleagues before seeking shelter. Sadly, Cope was among the 6 workers killed.

Cope’s sister Rachel wrote a scathing Facebook post about Amazon’s lack of concern for its workers. “Everyone knows that all Amazon cares about is productivity,” she wrote. “I want [Amazon] to answer for this. I want this to be a starting point of places taking the lives of their employees seriously and treating them as more than a number”.



Thompson: Meadows told Jan. 6 committee to “pound sand”; committee reads out his texts

Members of the congressional committee investigating the Jan 6. assault on the Capitol have voted to hold Trump’s former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in contempt. A full vote in the House will likely take place today before a referral is made to the U.S. Attorney and then the Department of Justice. If found in contempt, Meadow could face up to a year in jail for each charge as well as fines.

After initially cooperating with the committee, Meadows abruptly withdrew on the eve of his scheduled deposition. Now citing “executive privilege”, Meadows says he will no longer cooperate with the investigation. Before the first contempt vote, committee chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) said that after first complying with the committee’s request for documents, Meadows then “changed his mind and told us to pound sand. He didn’t even show up!”.

Meadows’ change of heart comes just as his tell-all book about his time in the White House is about to hit the shelves, undermining his claim to executive privilege.

Cheney reads out texts to Meadows urging that Trump take action on Jan. 6.

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), another committee member, read out some of the 8500 e-mails and texts Meadows turned over to the committee before withdrawing. These were texts from people close to Trump, urging that he do more to call a halt to the violence at the Capitol. It is telling that these were people who had frequent and direct contact with Trump. In this instance, they seem to have given up reasoning with Trump directly and reached out to Meadows instead. These include FoxNews contributors Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity and Brian Kilmeade, and Trump’s son, Donald Trump, Jr.

Trump Jr. reached out to Meadows several times on Jan. 6. “We need an Oval Office address. He needs to lead now. It has gone too far and gotten out of hand. He’s got to condemn this shit now. The Capitol Police tweet is not enough”. Meadows responded to Trump Jr., saying “I am pushing it hard. I agree”.

Laura Ingraham said the attack was “hurting all of us”. Ingraham and Sean Hannity called for Trump make a statement urging the rioters to leave the Capitol peacefully. Brian Kilmeade texted Meadows that Trump was “destroying everything” his administration had accomplished.

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UN confirms 100.4°F temperature record for the Arctic

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO), a UN agency, has confirmed that a temperature of 38°C (100.4°F) is a record for the Arctic. The temperature was recorded during a heatwave in the Siberian town of Verkhoyansk on July, 20, 2020 during a heatwave. Over that period, temperatures averaged about 50°F above normal for the time of year. Verkhoyansk is about 71 miles north of the Arctic Circle

During that heatwave, Siberia suffered a number of devastating wildfires, as did much of the rest of the world. The heatwave drove massive sea ice loss and helped make 2020 one of the three hottest years on record.

Petteri Taalas, the WMO’s secretary-general, says, “This new Arctic record is one of a series of observations … that sound the alarm bells about our changing climate”.

The Arctic Circle is one of the fastest warming in the world, with heat escalating at more than twice the global average. Another statement from the WMO says, “It is possible, indeed likely, that greater extremes will occur in the Arctic region in the future”.

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