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Why One State 'Scuttled' Worker's Horrible Death

Phillip Lee Terry died in Indiana in 2017
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 30, 2019 12:15 PM CST

(Newser) – Phillip Lee Terry's death was needless and gruesome. Now Indiana officials are accused of crippling a probe into the tragedy while trying to get Amazon to open its second headquarters in the state, Vice reports. John Stallone, a former state safety inspector, is the whistleblower who triggered the story. "You are gambling with people's lives every day," he tells PBS Newshour. "And that doesn't seem like you should get a pass." Stallone began the investigation after Terry, a 59-year-old grandfather, was crushed by a heavy piece of equipment in 2017 while fixing a forklift in Amazon's warehouse in Plainfield. A pole should have held up the equipment, but Terry had barely received workplace-safety training. Other workers said safety training was lax and speed prioritized.

"There's no training, there's no safety, it's 'Get 'er done,'" a worker said. Then Reveal News found that internal injuries at Amazon's 110 fulfillment centers are more than double the warehousing industry's national average. What's more, Stallone says Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb and his labor commissioner pressured him to sideline the case while Indiana tried wooing Amazon for its "HQ2." Told to back off or resign, Stallone quit in December 2017. But he's got a recording of his old boss, Julie Alexander, telling Amazon officials what she would need to blame Terry's death on "employee misconduct." Indiana later deleted all of Stallone's citations, yet Amazon spurned the state on HQ2. Click for the full Reveal News investigation. (Or read about an Amazon worker who died after collapsing unnoticed.)

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