SEATTLE — Amazon.com, addressing issues that have drawn heavy criticism of the company, told shareholders Thursday that it planned to improve warehouse conditions and drop its membership in a conservative public-policy organization.
More than 100 protesters rallied outside the company's annual shareholders meeting Thursday at the Seattle Art Museum, calling on the Seattle Internet retailer to pay more taxes, treat its workers better and drop its membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council.
During the meeting, Amazon founder and Chief Executive Jeff Bezos said the company will spend $52 million this year retrofitting its warehouses with air conditioning. Amazon has come under heavy criticism for conditions at its warehouses after a Pennsylvania newspaper revealed that employees were forced to work in temperatures above 100 degrees last summer.
Amazon installed air-conditioning last summer at its warehouse in Lexington, which had been the subject of two heat complaints to the state. It plans to air-condition the rest of its Kentucky warehouses, including Campbellsville and Hebron, this year.
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General counsel Michelle Wilson said Amazon has decided not to renew its membership in the non-profit ALEC, which has been in the spotlight recently for its support of "stand your ground" laws in various states, including Florida.