Article: Amazon locks horns with US Senator over work culture

Employee Relations

Amazon locks horns with US Senator over work culture

In his blog, Sanders said that many Amazon employees, who work for Jeff Bezos are paid wages so low that they cannot even make ends meet.
Amazon locks horns with US Senator over work culture

E-commerce giant Amazon and U.S. Senator for Vermont, Bernie Sanders are up in arms over the poor quality of work environment in the organization. Senator Sanders has left no stone unturned to speak against Amazon and their ill-treatment of employees in the company. 

In his recent tweet, the Senator claimed, “Amazon’s warehouses are one of the most dangerous places to work in the U.S. According to the NCOSH,( National Council for Occupational Safety and Health) seven Amazon workers have died on or near the job since 2013. I will be asking OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) to investigate unsafe working conditions at Amazon fulfilment centres.”

In his blog, Sanders said that many Amazon employees, who work for Jeff Bezos are paid wages so low that they can’t make ends meet. 

He further wrote, “Thousands of Amazon employees are forced to rely on food stamps, Medicaid and public housing because their wages are too low, including 1 out of 3 of its workers in Arizona and 2,400 in Pennsylvania and Ohio, according to The New Food Economy. Bottom line: the taxpayers of this country should not have to subsidize employees at a company owned by Mr. Bezos who is worth $155 billion. That is absurd.”

The Senator claimed that Amazon’s median employee pay is only $28,446 — 9 percent less than the industry average and well below what constitutes a living wage in the United States. 

Amazon’s Response

According to Amazon, Senator Sanders continues to make inaccurate and misleading accusations against the company. The e-commerce giant pointed out that the organization is proud to have created over 130,000 new jobs last year alone. In the U.S., the average hourly wage for a full-time associate in our fulfillment centers, including cash, stock, and incentive bonuses, is over $15/hour before overtime. 

“Sanders claims that Amazon's median U.S. salary is $28,446, despite the fact that we've made clear that this number is global and includes part-time employees. In fact, the median U.S. salary for full-time Amazon employees is $34,123. We encourage anyone to compare our pay and benefits to other retailers,” said Amazon while replying to Senator’s blog.

Clarifying on Senator’s SNAP(Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)  statement which has been called ‘Food Stamps’, Amazon highlighted that it’s also misleading because they include people who only worked for Amazon for a short period of time and/or chose to work part-time — both of these groups would almost certainly qualify for SNAP.  

Employee’s experience 

Going forward the Senator has started a survey on his website and asked current and former Amazon employees to share their experiences on the working environment. 

Responding to Senator’s survey, Amazon is encouraging all employees to respond with their actual experiences. In an email to his colleagues, Dave Clark, Head of Global Operations, Amazon said, “I encourage you and your teams to let him know what you think. He only asks if you are on food stamps, but I hope he would be interested in hearing that you’re not as well. Please feel free to tell him your truth, and encourage all employees in your buildings to do the same – during stand-ups, in the halls, etc.”

The Legal Route

Coming September 5th, Bernie Sanders is planning to introduce legislation to curb the large corporates. The Senator said, “To end the absurdity of middle-class taxpayers having to subsidize large, profitable corporations, many of which are owned by billionaires. If Amazon, Walmart and other corporations won’t pay their workers a living wage, our bill would establish a 100 percent tax equal to the amount of federal benefits received by their low-wage workers. The American taxpayer should not be subsidizing the richest people in history so they can underpay their employees.”

It’ll be interesting to see how Amazon will go ahead and handle the upcoming legislation. This incident is likely to impact the e-commerce company as they are carving their niche towards a work-friendly organization. Recently, Amazon was ranked top sought companies to work for in the United States on LinkedIn’s top companies list. 

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Topics: Employee Relations, #Corporate

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