Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos snubs Bernie Sanders' invite to hearing on income inequality
Amazon said it supports Sanders' push for $15 federal minimum wage
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos declined a request from Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, on Friday that he testify at an upcoming Senate Budget Committee Hearing on income inequality.
The hearing, slated for Wednesday, will examine issues related to wealth and inequality amid an ongoing push among Amazon warehouse workers in Alabama to unionize. Sanders invited Bezos to testify alongside an employee from the warehouse at the center of the unionization push.
Critics have targeted Bezos, the world’s richest man, for the vast increase in his personal net worth amid an economic downturn during the coronavirus pandemic. An Amazon representative said Bezos would be unable to attend the hearing.
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“We fully endorse Senator Sanders’s efforts to reduce income inequality with legislation to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour for all workers,” Amazon said in a statement first obtained by Bloomberg.
Amazon raised its minimum wage to $15 per hour amid pressure from Sanders and other lawmakers. The e-commerce giant has argued its pay and benefits, which include a retirement plan as well as healthcare, vision and dental coverage, are better than those of rival companies.
Sanders has repeatedly called on Amazon and other major US corporations to increase pay for their workers.
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“I have invited Jeff Bezos to testify in the Budget Committee next week to explain to the American people why he thinks it's appropriate for him to spend a whole lot of money denying economic dignity to workers at Amazon, while he has become $78 billion richer during the pandemic,” Sanders wrote on Twitter regarding the invitation.
Sanders and other Senate Democrats pushed for the inclusion of a measure in President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package that would have gradually increased the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour over the next several years.
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The Senate parliamentarian ruled the measure could not be included in the bill. Senate lawmakers later rejected Sanders’ amendment that sought to include the wage hike anyway.
In February, Amazon formally endorsed the push for an increased federal minimum wage.