Bernie Sanders' 'Stop BEZOS' bill targets worker pay at Amazon and Walmart

Sanders made the bill personal with the not so subtle dig by naming the bill acronym after Amazon boss Jeff Bezos

Sanders made the bill personal with the not so subtle dig by naming the bill acronym after Amazon boss Jeff Bezos

Sen. Bernie Sanders, a frequent critic of, introduced a bill Wednesday that would tax employers if their workers required public assistance‚ naming it the Stop BEZOS Act.

Officially titled The Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies (BEZOS) Act-an explicit dig at Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world-the goal of Sanders and Khanna's bill is to draw attention to the fact that taxpayers are effectively subsidizing corporations' starvation wages and pressure these companies to pay a living wage. The bill is created to force large employers to pay back, in the form of a new tax, federal assistance their workers receive.

The idea is to crack down on "corporate welfare" - where the government is left to pick up the slack for poor paying, big businesses. Covered public assistance program include Medicaid, Section 8 housing, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs, for companies with more than 500 employees. "But we do not believe that taxpayers should have to expend huge sums of money subsidizing profitable corporations owned by some of the wealthiest people in this country. That is what a rigged economy looks like".

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Bezos is worth an estimated $168 billion, with his wealth increasing by $260 million each day, said Sanders, an independent and former contender for the Democratic presidential nomination. "Meanwhile Mr Bezos continues to pay thousands of his amazon employees wages that are so low that they must rely on food stamps, medicaid or subsidised housing in order to survive", he said.

Recent reports, citing the New Food Economy, show that as many as one-third of Amazon's employees in Arizona receive food stamps, as do one-in-10 in OH and Pennsylvania.

The most troubling potential outcome, in Bernstein's opinion, is that the Stop BEZOS Act could further the stigmatization of worker benefits. Sanders' bill isn't likely to progress in the current political climate but it does bring added attention to warehouse worker conditions, which have come under scrutiny in recent months. Amazon has denied his claims vigorously, calling them "inaccurate and misleading", and maintaining that it offers competitive pay and a diverse range of benefits.

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"Amazon is proud to have created over 130,000 new jobs past year alone", the company went on to note in its blog post on the subject.

The company highlighted that its average hourly wage for a full-time fulfillment center employee is more than $15 an hour, including cash, stock and incentive bonuses, but before overtime.

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