Amazon, the e-commerce site which has become a staple in everyday American life, can’t seem to catch a break, especially not from the likes of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).
Yes, AOC is again attacking the sales giant - this time for apparently paying their workers “starvation wages.”
In an interview on ABC’s New Week last Sunday, when asked if Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos would remain a billionaire if true progressive policies were implemented, AOC said, “For me, I spend less time thinking about Jeff Bezos and more time thinking about Amazon warehouse workers. I think about the outcomes I want for those folks. So, whether 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.”
AOC then continued to say that Bezos’ wealth was partially due to Amazon paying its workers “starvation wages,” asserting “I certainly think it’s part of the equation,” concerning how Bezos has achieved his billionaire status.
Usually, corporations stay quiet when bashed by politicians, but it seems as if Amazon has finally had enough. In response to Ocasio-Cortez’s comments, the company tweeted:
“AOC is just wrong. Amazon is a leader on pay at $15 min wage + full benefits from day one. We also lobby to raise federal min wage.”
And, of course, AOC fired back:
If a person is working 40h/week & is paid so little that they need gov help to make ends meet, it’s not the person that’s a weight on our system - it’s the company.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 18, 2019
People need to be paid a living wage. We stand up to co’s that rely on food stamps to make up for their low wages.
Except, there’s an issue with this, as there usually is when AOC makes a claim: chiefly, that Amazon already pays full-time employees a $15 minimum wage.
According to CNBC last year, “Amazon announced Tuesday it’s raising the minimum wage for all U.S. employees to $15, effective next month. The new minimum wage will benefit more than 250,000 Amazon employees — including part-time and temporary employees — as well as another 100,000 seasonal employees, the company said. Some employees who already make $15 per hour will also see a pay increase.”
Beyond this, Snopes, clearly known for its anti-conservative bias, partially challenges the veracity of the popular food stamp claim, asserting “[t]he 11.8 percent figure was only an estimate; was based on one single state; and income is not the sole factor that determines food stamp eligibility,” in their "What’s False" category.
Snopes continued to explain that:
Another factor to consider is whether a worker is employed by Amazon on a full-time or part-time basis. Someone whose only source of income was their part-time job at an Amazon fulfillment center would earn a lower monthly income than a full-time worker in a similar position, even if they received the same hourly wage.
This circumstance might well qualify someone for food stamps even if their hourly wage at Amazon were otherwise not too bad…
According to Snopes, even part-time jobs had wages ranging from $10.50 to $11.75.
But let’s assume AOC is right for a second — I know, a novel concept — and Amazon is paying their employees “starvation wages” to meet a bottom-line better, abusing the government to pick up its slack.
Now, this may seem like a naive concept, but perhaps that is more a problem with a far-reaching, overly-usable welfare program than with Amazon itself. No company, no matter how virtuous it tries to appear, will pass up the opportunity to better fulfill its bottom line if it knows the government will pick up the slack.
Instead of cracking down on industry, it would seem the better move to make here would be to restrict food stamp dispersion in a way that a company can’t abuse it.
American corporations, especially when faced with public scrutiny, won’t pay their employees so little that they can’t survive, particularly considering they need those employees to fulfill necessary company functions.
Instead of adhering to the American tradition of expanding government to solve problems — which ironically, never seems to solve the problem — perhaps we can trust the free market and public scrutiny to do its job for once and reign in public programs open to abuse.