While other tech companies have had their fair share of growing pains in recent years, Amazon just keeps chugging along. Its CEO Jeff Bezos is now the richest man in the world, and he’s been creating jobs left and right. Lately, though, there have been questions about the quality of those jobs and the way Amazon treats its employees. As The Washington Post reported, one high-profile clash has featured Senator Bernie Sanders taking Bezos to task over low wages and questionable working conditions at Amazon warehouses.
Sanders got Bezos’ attention when he called for legislation that would require large employers to reimburse the government for federal assistance received by their employees such as food stamps and Medicaid. Bezos responded by claiming that Sanders’ proposal was based on inaccurate and misleading facts.
“Bottom line, the taxpayers of this country should not have to subsidize employees at a company owned by Mr. Bezos who is worth $155 billion,” Sanders argued. “That is absurd.”
Bezos responded: “While Senator Sanders plays politics and makes misleading accusations, we are expending real money and effort upskilling people. We have been in regular contact with his office and have offered several opportunities for Senator Sanders and his team to tour one of our fulfillment centers (FCs). To date he has still not seen an FC for himself.”
Traditionally, Amazon as a company, and Bezos in particular, have remained apolitical. Even when President Trump came after them with a series of angry tweets earlier this year, they largely stayed quiet. The difference is in dollars and cents, though. When Trump came out against Amazon, the tweeting was just that—tweeting. Sanders’ proposed legislation has the potential to actually take money out of Bezos’ pocket.
It’s hard to say which side of this feud is in the right. Is Amazon’s presence good for the American economy overall? For its part, the company points out that it created 130,000 new jobs last year. Sanders would counter that many of those jobs are part-time roles, while others are hires made through temporary staffing agencies that aren’t always strong when it comes to hourly rates and benefits.
Photo: An Amazon “fulfillment center” in Kent, Washington. Photo by VDB Photos / Shutterstock.com