Next week, Bernie Sanders will introduce legislation aimed firmly at large companies he believes have taken advantage of “corporate welfare” by underpaying employees. Amazon and Walmart in particular have bore the brunt of the Senator’s criticisms, and the rhetoric has become increasingly heated over the the past few days.
Earlier today, Amazon accused Sanders of issuing “inaccurate and misleading” statements as he called the company out of warehouse conditions. The Vermont senator has since responded with a release, calling Amazon fulfillment center wages “absurd.”
“Thousands of Amazon employees are forced to rely on food stamps, Medicaid and public housing because their wages are too low,” Sanders says, “including 1 out of 3 of its workers in Arizona and 2,400 in Pennsylvania and Ohio, according to The New Food Economy. Bottom line: the taxpayers of this country should not have to subsidize employees at a company owned by Mr. Bezos who is worth $155 billion. That is absurd.”
In an interview yesterday, Sanders told TechCrunch that the company had not been forthcoming with information about employment. The company shot back, noting that the Senator had yet to take it up on its offer of a warehouse tour.
“In terms of visiting a fulfillment center, last month I was visiting Wisconsin and requested to visit the fulfillment center in Kenosha,” Sanders says. “Unfortunately, Amazon could not accommodate me then. In September, I look forward to visiting the fulfillment center in Chester, Virginia, and working out the details with Amazon. We have heard from workers there, including Navy veteran Seth King, about unsafe working conditions and at least one person has reportedly died at the warehouse.”
Sanders, of course, is far from the first person to raise issue with Amazon fulfillment center conditions. Stories have been floating around from current and former employees for years. CEO Jeff Bezos, who has been front and center in Sanders’ criticism recently told the press, “I am very proud of our working conditions, and I am very proud of the wages that we pay.”
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