Amazon accuses Senator Bernie Sanders of “misleading” claims about worker pay

Amazon accuses Senator Bernie Sanders of “misleading” claims about worker pay

August 29, 2018 0 By Nazmul Khan

Amazon has issued a statement defending itself from criticism by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who is preparing a bill that will tax companies for money spent on their employees’ food stamps and other low-wage benefits. Amazon claims Sanders has made “misleading statements about pay and benefits” at the company, and it says it’s encouraging employees to contact Sanders with their positive experiences.

The statement repeats several of Amazon’s previous comments about worker pay at its fulfillment centers. It touts the company’s “highly competitive wages and a climate controlled, safe workplace” and says that many employees who qualified for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, known until 2008 as the Food Stamp Program) worked part-time or were only briefly employed at Amazon.

Sanders discussed his bill yesterday in an interview with TechCrunch, where he said that “many, many thousands of Amazon workers in their warehouses throughout the country are earning very low wages.” He said that while collecting data was difficult, “from what information we’ve gathered, one out of three Amazon workers in Arizona, as we understand it, are on public assistance. They are receiving either Medicaid, food stamps or public housing.” Amazon didn’t specifically address this statistic.

Sanders’ site includes a form for Amazon workers to submit experiences with the company. While it references negative experiences, Amazon posted a tweet from Amazon head of global operations Dave Clark, who is encouraging employees to write to Sanders if they’re not receiving SNAP aid. Amazon recently launched an “ambassador” program where fulfillment center employees defend the company’s working conditions on Twitter.

Sanders’ bill isn’t specifically anti-Amazon, and other major companies — particularly Walmart, another frequent Sanders target — force large numbers of low-wage employees to rely on SNAP and other programs. But Sanders is drawing attention to a recurring sore spot for Amazon, which has defended itself against numerous reports of rigid micromanagement, low pay, and dangerous warehouse conditions. The state of Indiana fined it for safety violations last year after a worker was crushed by a forklift.

Sanders’ office tells The Verge that it’s preparing a response to Amazon’s statement.

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