Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang has called for increased regulation of Amazon’s delivery network following a BuzzFeed News investigation that found the retailer’s gigantic, decentralized system of delivering packages has brought chaos and danger to streets across the country with little accountability.
“At this point, Amazon comprises such a huge part of our economy that we should be exploring rules specifically to curb their abuses or practices,” the lawyer and nonprofit executive told BuzzFeed News. He speculated that it would be possible to create policies that would regulate the independent delivery firms that carry as much as half of Amazon’s packages in the US to their final destinations.
Amazon did not respond to a request for comment.
Yang, whose proposal for a government-guaranteed universal basic income for all Americans is at the center of his platform, has been a frequent critic of big corporations during his campaign and has won support from a diverse group that includes Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.
In May, Yang told Fox News that he believed Amazon should be subject to a value-added tax to ensure it contributes a larger share of its profits to the government. In 2018, Amazon paid $0 in tax on more than $11 billion in profits.
“They are doing their job, which is to pay as little in taxes as possible,” Yang told Tucker Carlson. “We have to do our job, which is to make it so the American people see our fair share.”
The BuzzFeed News investigation showed that Amazon uses independent contractors to employ drivers carrying its packages instead of employing them itself, a layer of separation that allows it to deny legal liability for crashes and fatal mishaps. The report also examined the pressure the Seattle-based retailer puts on these companies to meet on-time delivery quotas, and how that pressure trickles down to drivers, who are often expected to deliver 250 or more packages a day and receive substantially less safety training than drivers for UPS or FedEx.
At least six people have died in wrecks involving vehicles delivering Amazon packages in recent years, the investigation found.
“Amazon is doing what is best for its bottom line,” Yang told BuzzFeed News. “It has figured out that the last mile is the most inefficient part of its route. So it has outsourced the inefficiency to contractors to put the onus and cost onto them.”
Yang did not offer many details, in the brief interview, about how he would regulate Amazon delivery if he were elected president.