'Stop BEZOS Act' introduced in Senate targeting large employers

Bernie Sanders had words for Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on Monday

Bernie Sanders had words for Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on Monday

For months, Sanders has beencalling out the wage disparity between Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world, and Amazon's warehouse employees, some of whom have been found to rely on food stamps. Anecdotes shared by current and former Amazon employees corroborate these findings.

Sanders claimed that such corporate welfare costs the American taxpayer $150 billion a year, citing a study by the University of California Berkeley Labor Center.The "Stop BEZOS" Act and its House of Representatives counterpart, the Corporate Responsibility and Taxpayer Protection Act, were introduced Wednesday by Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) respectively.

Sanders spoke directly to wealth discrepancy between Bezos and the low-wage workers at Amazon.

"This bill would establish a corporate welfare tax on large employers equal to the amount of federal benefits received by their low-wage workers", a summary of Sanders and Khanna's bill notes. Sanders stated that thousands were forced to rely on food stamps and subsidized housing. Earlier this year, Amazon said in a government filing that its median salary is $28,446 - a figure, Amazon said, that include the compensation for part-time employees. While incentivizing companies to pay their employees higher wages, the measure would shift the burden from taxpayers back to the companies, he said.

Sanders has been vocal about his attack on large corporations and in July, he launched a petition to demand Amazon boss Jeff Bezos implement better working conditions and pay.

Amazon, which has more than 575,000 workers, is the country's second-largest private employer, behind Walmart. The requirement would apply to any company with more than 500 workers.




But some economists said they anxious such measures may backfire by creating incentives for companies to avoid hiring workers who may be likely to collect federal benefits.

The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) stated previously that "Amazon workers suffer injuries, and sometimes lost their lives, in a work environment with a relentless demand to fill orders and close monitoring of employee actions".

"If you're an employer with a job applicant who you fear is going to draw public benefits, whether you're right or wrong, you may try and avoid hiring that person", Bernstein said.

Plus, the legislation likely wouldn't do much to raise wages, the center said.

Employees also receive a "block of unpaid time off to account for running late and they can use that time like a checking account, deducting when necessary for time out of work", Lynch writes.

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