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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.
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.