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FOCUS | Amazon to AOC: Excuse You, Our Employees Live Like Kings on $15/Hour
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=44994"><span class="small">Bess Levin, Vanity Fair</span></a>   
Tuesday, 18 June 2019 10:54

Levin writes: "The tech giant takes issue with the notion that its founder's wealth is predicated on paying 'starvation wages.'"

Jeff Bezos and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. (photo: Getty Images)
Jeff Bezos and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. (photo: Getty Images)

ALSO SEE: Amazon's Attack on Alexandria
Ocasio-Cortez Is Corporate Gaslighting

Amazon to AOC: Excuse You, Our Employees Live Like Kings on $15/Hour

By Bess Levin, Vanity Fair

18 June 19

The tech giant takes issue with the notion that its founder’s wealth is predicated on paying “starvation wages.”

hen Amazon announced in February that it would not be opening a second headquarters in Queens as previously announced, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was one of the first lawmakers to claim victory, tweeting that defeating “Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world” was proof that “anything is possible.” And four months later, it appears her feelings about the company haven’t changed! Speaking to ABC News’s This Week on Sunday, AOC asserted that the only way Jeff Bezos was able to become the richest man in the world with a net worth of $117 billionafter giving his ex-wife roughly $37 billion—was by treating his employees like slave laborers. Noting that she has no issue with Bezos being obscenely rich if Amazon is paying its workers a “living wage,” AOC added: “If that’s the case and Jeff Bezos is still a billionaire, that’s one thing,” but if Bezos’s wealth is “predicated on paying people starvation wages and stripping them of their ability to access health care,” that’s a major problem. And you’ll never believe it, but the tech giant did not take kindly to such comments.

“These allegations are absurd,” Amazon said in a statement. “Amazon associates receive industry-leading pay starting at $15 an hour...Amazon pre-pays 95% of continuing education tuition costs through its Career Choice program for associates who want to pursue in-demand careers.” Jay Carney, Amazon’s head of communications, later chimed in to say, “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.” (Last October, after the tech giant raised its minimum wage, Bloomberg reported that the company had eliminated stock awards and monthly bonuses for warehouse workers and other hourly employees.)

Ocasio-Cortez, of course, is not the only lawmaker to take issue with Amazon. Last week presidential hopeful Joe Biden tweeted, “I have nothing against Amazon, but no company pulling in billions of dollars of profits should pay a lower tax rate than firefighters and teachers. We need to reward work, not just wealth.” At the time, Amazon responded, “We’ve paid $2.6B in corporate taxes since 2016. We pay every penny we owe. Congress designed tax laws to encourage companies to reinvest in the American economy. We have. $200B in investments since 2011 & 300K US jobs. Assume VP Biden’s complaint is w/ the tax code, not Amazon,” which is a little bit like saying that not paying federal income taxes makes you smart.

The company responded similarly back in April when Elizabeth Warren introduced a proposal called the Real Corporate Profits tax, which would apply a 7% tax to all corporate profits over $100 million. Under her plan, for instance, Amazon would have paid $698 million in taxes last year, rather than the zero-dollar check it actually wrote Uncle Sam. Amazon, it seemed, did not appreciate being singled out, huffily insisting that it “pays all the taxes we are required to pay in the U.S. and every country where we operate, including paying $2.6 billion in corporate tax and reporting $3.4 billion in tax expense over the last three years,” to which Warren effectively responded, “Did I stutter?

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 June 2019 10:56