Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Washington, DC, United States (4E) – It didn’t take Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) long to deliver his response to the news Amazon.com hit a market cap of $1 trillion, making its CEO Jeff Bezos a lot, lot richer.
The long-time foe of Bezos and Amazon, both of which he accuses of underpaying and overworking its employees, introduced legislation in Congress yesterday aimed at shaming large, profitable corporations like Amazon into paying their employees a living wage.
The “Stop BEZOS Act” co-authored by Sanders and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) will tax corporations for every dollar their low-wage workers receive in government assistance such as healthcare benefits or food stamps.
“Stop BEZOS” is an acronym for Stop “Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies,” and indicates the animosity Sanders has for Bezos, the world’s richest man with a personal fortune close to $170 billion. Stop BEZOS is aimed at shaming companies like Amazon and Walmart whose workers rely on public assistance because they’re so badly underpaid.
For months, Sanders has attacked Amazon for paying its workers wages so paltry thes people are forced to apply for food stamps to make ends meet. Sanders said this means Amazon and Bezos are getting richer and richer at the expense of the American taxpayer.
“Our legislation gives large, profitable employers a choice: Pay workers a living wage or pay for the public assistance programs their low-wage employees are forced to depend upon,” said Sanders of the proposed law.
For example, if an Amazon worker received $2,000 in food stamps, Amazon will be taxed $2,000 to cover that cost under Stop BEZOS.
After four months of being on the receiving end of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) attacks on its shameless exploitation of its lowly-paid workers, Amazon last week hit back, saying the outspoken liberal “plays politics and makes misleading accusations.”
“Senator Sanders continues to spread misleading statements about pay and benefits,” said Amazon in a blog explaining its point of view. Amazon claims the average hourly wage for a full-time associate in fulfillment centers (or warehouses), including cash, stock, and incentive bonuses, is over $15 an hour.
Sanders began tearing into Amazon in earnest in April when he posted a video online criticizing Amazon’s treatment of its warehouse workers, who he says are underpaid and seriously overworked. He compared these workers’ dire straits to that of Bezos “who makes more in 10 seconds than the median Amazon employee makes in a year: $28,466.”
Sanders described this shameful income inequality as a clear sign of “a rigged economy.” He also champions raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour.
“If Amazon, Walmart and other corporations won’t pay their workers a living wage, our bill would establish a 100% tax equal to the amount of federal benefits received by their low-wage workers. The American taxpayer should not be subsidizing the richest people in history so they can underpay their employees,” said Sanders in a statement.
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