Amazon says Bernie Sanders’ criticism of wages, working conditions is ‘inaccurate’

Bernie Sanders

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Sen. Bernie Sanders and Amazon are having trouble seeing eye to eye. 

On Wednesday, Vermont’s independent senator released a statement saying, “many Amazon employees, who work for the wealthiest person on Earth, are paid wages so low they can’t make ends meet.” 

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has a net worth of $159 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. In July, he became the richest person in modern history.

Sanders said Amazon’s median employee pay is $28,446, 9 percent lower than the industry average, and that thousands of the company’s employees rely on food stamps, Medicaid and public housing because of low wages. 

Amazon quickly responded with its own statement

“Sen. Sanders continues to make inaccurate and misleading accusations against Amazon,” the e-tailer said. “In the US, the average hourly wage for a full-time associate in our fulfillment centers, including cash, stock, and incentive bonuses, is over $15/hour before overtime. We encourage anyone to compare our pay and benefits to other retailers.”

The company also said Sanders’ claims about employees relying on SNAP — it corrected Sanders’ use of the phrase “food stamps,” saying it’s outdated — are misleading because they include people who worked for Amazon for a brief period or were employed part-time. Amazon said it gives employees benefits including health insurance, disability insurance, retirement savings plans and company stock.

Sanders’ statement came after he asked Amazon employees to share their experience working for the e-commerce giant on Tuesday. 

“The taxpayers of this country should not have to subsidize employees at a company owned by Mr. Bezos,” Sanders said in his statement. “That is absurd.”

He also noted that Amazon’s warehouses are on the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health’s list of most dangerous places to work in the US. The organization says seven Amazon employees have died at the company’s warehouses since 2013. Sanders said he’ll ask the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to investigate working conditions at the fulfillment centers.

In its statement, Amazon said it has a “climate controlled, safe workplace.”

Sanders has criticized Amazon before. In May, he posted a video slamming the company for its treatment of warehouse workers.

The senator said he’ll introduce legislation on Sept. 5 “to end the absurdity of middle class taxpayers having to subsidize large, profitable corporations, many of which are owned by billionaires.”

The bill would create a 100 percent tax equal to the amount of federal benefits received by low-wage workers at companies such as Amazon, he said. 

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