Senator Bernie Sanders called out Amazon in a series of Facebook posts this week, accusing the tech giant of relying on taxpayers to subsidize benefits for their employees.
“Jeff Bezos is the richest man in the world. It’s time to get Mr. Bezos off of welfare,” read the caption of a video posted to the Vermont senator’s Facebook page Wednesday. According to the video, if corporations like Amazon and Wal-Mart paid their workers a livable wage, taxpayers could see savings of $150 billion a year.
“1 out of 3 Amazon workers in Arizona and 2,400 in Pennsylvania and Ohio are forced to rely on food stamps, Medicaid, and public housing because their wages are too low,” the video explained.
In a rare blog post, Amazon fired back, calling Sanders’ accusations “inaccurate and misleading.”
“Senator Sanders’ references to SNAP, which hasn’t been called “food stamps” for several years, are also misleading because they include people who only worked for Amazon for a short period of time and/or chose to work part-time — both of these groups would almost certainly qualify for SNAP.”
Amazon’s blog post ends with a call to action from their frontline employees, asking them to let Sanders know what their experience has been.
As reported by The Inquisitr, several “ambassadors” from the retailer’s fulfillment centers have appeared on social media, lauding the company for their excellent benefits package. These accounts, which The Sun called a “creepy Twitter army,” share anecdotes about their workplaces being well-lit and safe. These claims are in stark contrast with a 2011 report by The Morning Call which probed into working conditions at one of Amazon’s Pennsylvania distribution centers. Their reporters found that ambulances were kept on standby during heat waves to tend to overheated workers.
“During summer heat waves, Amazon arranged to have paramedics parked in ambulances outside, ready to treat any workers who dehydrated or suffered other forms of heat stress. Those who couldn’t quickly cool off and return to work were sent home or taken out in stretchers and wheelchairs and transported to area hospitals.”
In a follow-up Facebook video, Sanders quotes an unnamed Amazon employee who referred to their workplace as an example of “a turn of the 20th century American sweat shop.”
Next month, Sanders will introduce new legislature requiring large, profitable corporations to pay taxes equal to the amount of public assistance their employees receive. “For companies with 500 or more employees, if a worker at Amazon receives $300 in food stamps, the employer would be taxed $300,” the video elaborated.