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Amazon defends itself from Bernie Sanders' attacks

Senator Bernie Sanders wants to slap a special tax on Amazon and other big companies that employ workers who...

Posted: Sep 1, 2018 3:46 PM
Updated: Sep 1, 2018 3:47 PM

Senator Bernie Sanders wants to slap a special tax on Amazon and other big companies that employ workers who collect food stamps and other public assistance. But Amazon disputes Sanders' depiction, saying its pay and benefits are competitive with other retailers.

The progressive icon from Vermont has been on the attack lately, posting a series of Facebook videos over the past week calling out Amazon and Walmart for not paying a living wage, which he lists in some posts as $15 an hour. In one video, titled "Get Amazon Off of Corporate Welfare," he highlighted that CEO Jeff Bezos is the world's richest person and earns $260 million a day, while many of his workers are on food stamps.

"Mr. Bezos continues to pay many thousands of his Amazon employees wages that are so low that they are forced to depend on taxpayer-funded programs, such as food stamps, Medicaid and subsidized housing in order to survive," Sanders said in the video, stressing that taxpayers foot the bill for these benefits. "Frankly, I don't believe that ordinary Americans should be subsidizing the wealthiest people in the world because they pay their employees inadequate wages."

The senator argues that Amazon's median employee pay is $28,446, which he says is 9% less than the industry average and "well below what constitutes a living wage in the United States." Also, he says he believes that many of the company's workers are either contractors or employed by temporary staffing agencies and earn even less.

Sanders plans to introduce legislation next week that would levy a tax on large companies equal to the value of the government benefits their workers receive. He argues that if employers paid a living wage, taxpayers would save $150 billion a year on public assistance programs.

Related: Bezos worth $150 billion as Amazon hits all-time high

In addition, he posted a form on his Senate and Facebook pages urging Amazon employees to share their experiences working at the online retail titan and asking them whether they are on public assistance or struggle with demanding working conditions.

Amazon, however, called Sanders' assertions "inaccurate and misleading" in a blog post Wednesday. The company says that Sanders' data for food stamp recipients includes people who only worked at Amazon for a short period of time or who chose to work part-time. The median U.S. salary for full-time Amazon employees is $34,123, it says. Sanders' figure includes part-time employees and those who work globally.

It has invited the senator to tour one of its fulfillment centers, which is where many of Amazon's lower-paid employees work.

The company highlighted that its average hourly wage for a full-time fulfillment center employee is more than $15 an hour, including cash, stock and incentive bonuses, but before overtime. Amazon also noted that it offers health and disability insurance, as well as retirement savings plans, company stock, tuition payments and up to 20 weeks of paid leave. The company says it created more than 130,000 new jobs in the U.S. last year.

Related: Bernie Sanders is hosting a town hall for workers. Their CEOs are invited.

"We encourage anyone to compare our pay and benefits to other retailers," it wrote, encouraging workers to fill out Sanders' form.

Walmart did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Updated: This article has been updated with information from Amazon regarding the median US salary for it full-time employees.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 319511

Reported Deaths: 7368
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22267267
Hinds20657421
Harrison18401317
Rankin13868282
Jackson13681248
Madison10239224
Lee10052176
Jones8458167
Forrest7824153
Lauderdale7257242
Lowndes6501150
Lamar634088
Lafayette6303121
Washington5419136
Bolivar4836133
Panola4665110
Oktibbeha466098
Pearl River4600147
Marshall4572105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc425073
Union415677
Monroe4155135
Neshoba4059179
Lincoln4008112
Hancock386487
Leflore3515125
Tate342386
Sunflower339391
Pike3368111
Alcorn324272
Scott319774
Yazoo314171
Adams305886
Itawamba305078
Copiah299666
Coahoma298484
Simpson298189
Tippah291868
Prentiss283661
Leake271774
Marion271280
Covington267283
Wayne264442
Grenada264087
George252051
Newton248663
Tishomingo231268
Winston229981
Jasper222148
Attala215073
Chickasaw210559
Holmes190374
Clay187754
Stone187433
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174032
Yalobusha167840
Smith164034
Walthall135347
Greene131833
Lawrence131024
Montgomery128643
Noxubee128034
Perry126738
Amite126242
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Jefferson Davis108033
Tunica108027
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96629
Franklin85023
Quitman81916
Choctaw79118
Wilkinson69432
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 548323

Reported Deaths: 11288
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson809531565
Mobile42066826
Madison35663525
Tuscaloosa26162458
Shelby25595254
Montgomery25081612
Baldwin21839313
Lee16265176
Calhoun14718325
Morgan14626285
Etowah14171363
Marshall12449230
Houston10764288
Elmore10295213
Limestone10182157
St. Clair10160251
Cullman9941201
Lauderdale9596249
DeKalb8967189
Talladega8458184
Walker7335280
Autauga7230113
Blount6944139
Jackson6922113
Colbert6414140
Coffee5627127
Dale4929114
Russell454941
Chilton4472116
Franklin431083
Covington4273122
Tallapoosa4136155
Escambia401780
Chambers3726124
Dallas3607156
Clarke352961
Marion3242106
Pike314078
Lawrence3129100
Winston283572
Bibb268464
Geneva257581
Marengo250665
Pickens236862
Barbour234659
Hale226878
Butler224071
Fayette218162
Henry193843
Cherokee187245
Randolph187044
Monroe179341
Washington170439
Macon162951
Clay160159
Crenshaw155657
Cleburne153244
Lamar146537
Lowndes142054
Wilcox127030
Bullock124242
Conecuh113430
Coosa111429
Perry108626
Sumter105732
Greene93534
Choctaw62025
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