Ocasio-Cortez's feud with Amazon over ‘starvation wages’ continues: ‘People need to be paid a living wage’
New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s beef with Amazon isn’t over.
The congresswoman fired back at Amazon on Monday night after Jeff Bezos' e-commerce company said she was “just wrong” for claiming it paid workers “starvation wages.”
“From 'day one?' Really? 1 in 10 of Amazon’s Ohio employees were on food stamps after the company opened fulfillment centers in the state. Paying full-time employees so little that they require gov food assistance is what paying starvation wages means,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted along with a link to a Daily Beast article detailing how some Amazon workers were reportedly living on food stamps.
“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,” she wrote in a follow-up tweet. “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.”
Ocasio-Cortez’s Monday night tweets were in response to an Amazon post earlier in the day that read: “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.”
The latest war of words between the congresswoman and the e-commerce giant began Sunday when Ocasio-Cortez appeared on ABC News’ “This Week” and said Amazon workers were paid “starvation wages” and had limited access to proper healthcare.
“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,” Ocasio-Cortez said when asked if Bezos would still retain his billionaire status if she implemented a “true progressive program.”
“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.”
“And if that’s the case, and Jeff Bezos is still a billionaire, that’s one thing,” she continued. “But if his being a billionaire is predicated on paying people starvation wages and stripping them of their ability to access healthcare, and also, if his ability to be a billionaire is predicated on the fact that his workers take food stamps so I’m paying for him to be a billionaire.”
When asked if she believes Bezos was a billionaire because he paid his workers “starvation wages,” the congresswoman responded: “I think it’s certainly a part of the equation when you have a very large workforce and you underpay every single person.”
“And then you also participate in taking billions of dollars of government subsidies, that could be part of it,” she added.
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An Amazon spokesperson also responded to the congresswoman's comments on Sunday in a statement to FOX Business.
“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,” a spokesperson said Sunday night.
“On top of these benefits, Amazon pre-pays 95 percent of continuing education tuition costs through its Career Choice program for associates who want to pursue in-demand careers. For anyone who wants to know what it's like to work in an Amazon fulfillment center, sign up for a tour today,” the company spokesperson added.
It’s not the first time the freshman congresswoman has criticized Bezos or Amazon. One of the most notable incidents was Ocasio-Cortez’s disapproval of Amazon building a second headquarters in New York City. The company, which was considering building its “HQ2” in Queens’ Long Island City neighborhood, canceled its plans after facing fierce opposition from Ocasio-Cortez, several other lawmakers and some residents.
Fox Business' Matt Kazin contributed to this report.