Amazon gave Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez a rap across the knuckles Monday on Twitter after she attacked the retail giant for paying what she called “starvation wages.”
The New York congresswoman, whose previous attacks against Amazon were a factor in the company’s decision not to build a second headquarters near the freshman legislator’s district in Queens, was interviewed Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”
During the interview, Ocasio-Cortez slammed Amazon for paying workers too little.
Amazon fired back, tweeting that Ocasio-Cortez was “just wrong” and that “Amazon is a leader on pay at $15 min wage + full benefits from day one. We also lobby to raise federal min wage.”
— Amazon News (@amazonnews) June 17, 2019
Jay Carney, the head of communications at Amazon, responded just hours later.
“More than 42% of all working Americans earn less than the $15/hour Amazon pays entry-level fulfillment center employees,” Carney wrote. “And all our employees get top-tier benefits.”
“I’d urge @AOC to focus on raising the federal minimum wage instead of making stuff up about Amazon.”
More than 42% of all working Americans earn less than the $15/hour Amazon pays entry-level fulfillment center employees. And all our employees get top-tier benefits. I’d urge @AOC to focus on raising the federal minimum wage instead of making stuff up about Amazon. https://t.co/ClhFfOrywd
— Jay Carney (@JayCarney) June 17, 2019
Ocasio-Cortez had vented on the show about the wealth of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos when asked if she found the CEO’s wealth or the wages of his workers more concerning.
“(W)hether Jeff Bezos is a billionaire or not is less of my concern than if your average Amazon worker is making a living wage, if they have guaranteed health care and if they can send their kids to college tuition-free,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
“If that’s the case and Jeff Bezos is still a billionaire, that’s one thing,” she added.
“If his being a billionaire is predicated on paying people starvation wages and stripping them of their ability to access health care, and also if his ability to be a billionaire is predicated on the fact that his workers taking food stamps so I’m paying for him to be a billionaire,” she said.
ABC’s Jonathan Karl then asked Ocasio-Cortez if she thought Bezos was rich because his workers were paid too little.
“I think it’s certainly a part of the equation when you have a very large work force, and you underpay every single person and then you also participate in — you know, in taking billions of dollars of government subsidies. I think that — that could be part of it,” she said.
She proceeded to argue that all is not beyond redemption if America follows progressive policies.
“But, if he’s willing to give up all of his government subsidies, if we’re willing to charge fair taxes, if we’re willing to pay people a living wage, send people to college tuition-free, guarantee everyone health care and he’s still a billionaire, then, well, that’s a fight we can have another day,” the congresswoman said.
Amazon later issued a statement to the Fox Business Network pushing back harder against Ocasio-Cortez.
“These allegations are absurd. Amazon associates receive industry-leading pay starting at $15 an hour — in fact, hourly associates at our Staten Island facility earn between $17.30 and $23 an hour, plus benefits which include comprehensive medical, dental, and vision insurance,” the statement read.
“On top of these benefits, Amazon pre-pays 95% of continuing education tuition costs through its Career Choice program for associates who want to pursue in-demand careers.”
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