Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has introduced the “Stop BEZOS Act” aka the “Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies Act.” “Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, is the wealthiest person on Earth,” Sanders said Wednesday. “I think, as I understand it, his wealth went up by $2 billion yesterday — Amazon had a good day. And he is worth about $168 billion. Not bad.” “Meanwhile, Mr. Bezos continues to pay thousands of his Amazon employees wages that are so low that they must rely on food stamps, Medicaid, or subsidized housing in order to survive.” He said.
The “Stop BEZOS Act,” introduced Wednesday, would require large employers, such as Amazon or Walmart, to pay the government for food stamps, public housing, Medicaid and other federal assistance received by their workers.
Sanders argues that the government would save about $150 billion annually — from assistance programs — if the large companies paid their employees a living wage.
Sanders’ words hinted at Amazon’s warehouse workers, a position that has come under criticism with reports of harsh working conditions. Some reports state employees aren’t allowed to use the bathroom.
“Specifically, this bill would establish a 100 percent tax on corporations with 500 or more employees, equal to the amount of federal benefits received by their low-wage workers,” Sanders said.
Amazon has countered such criticism saying claims about poor working conditions and pay are misleading.
The company argues it spends money to “upskill” its employees and notes that Sanders has not toured any of its fulfillment centers despite an open offer to do so.
Sanders’ “Stop BEZOS Act” is the latest in a string of criticism the company faces, even in its hometown Seattle. A recent head tax proposal was titled an “Amazon tax” and targeted the company to pay for affordable housing.
Seattle’s housing has grown slim and expensive as the tech industry boomed. Graffiti in the city has also started targeting Amazon and Bezos.