Amazon is refuting allegations from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) about the treatment of their employees.
Sanders has taken to his Facebook page to criticize the company's wages as they supposedly contribute to the "gap between the very rich and everyone else." Sanders criticized Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos for being worth $155 billion while a number of Amazon employees live on taxpayer-funded welfare programs. Sanders and other critics have accused Bezos himself of being subsidized by taxpayers. Since that time, Sanders has become the face of a petition demanding that Bezos "pay [his] workers a living wage and improve working conditions at Amazon warehouses all across the country." The petition goes on to say, "It is beyond absurd that you would make more money in ten seconds than the median employee of Amazon makes in an entire year."
Amazon has since responded to Sanders' claims, calling them "misleading and inaccurate." Amazon alleged in a statement that it had previously reached out to Sanders numerous times to invited him to tour one of their fulfillment centers. (The company later tweeted that Sanders finally accepted their offer.) Additionally, the company said that the average hourly wage for a full-time fulfillment center associate was over $15 an hour, not including overtime. The company also rebuked Sanders' welfare claim, saying that the company offers "highly competitive wages and a climate controlled," up to 20 weeks paid leave and other flexible leave options for new parents, and "a comprehensive benefit package including health insurance, disability insurance, retirement savings plans, and company stock." The company noted that the figures also included those who worked for Amazon for a short time and made the decision to take on part-time positions.
Sanders is not the only politician who has placed Amazon in his sights this year. Earlier in the year, President Donald Trump publicly accused Amazon of harming American businesses and the postal service with the reception of a subsidy. Reason's Peter Suderman shared that the supposed subsidy was anything but. Several of his criticisms possibly stemmed from frustration with unflattering coverage published by The Washington Post, which is also owned by Bezos.
Amazon has also clashed with the Seattle city government over a job tax that sought to take 26 cents for every hour worked by a company that grossed more than $20 million. The city council believed the revenue from the tax would help address the city's homelessness problem. The tax caused Amazon to halt construction on a new office, which impacted the jobs of many construction workers. Businesses, construction unions, and many citizens opposed the tax, which was quickly repealed.