Amazon and Bernie Sanders are embroiled in a workers’ rights battle

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Bernie Sanders has some beef with Amazon, but Amazon isn’t taking the criticism lying down. In the unofficial showdown of Amazon vs. Bernie Sanders, Amazon disputes Sanders’ claims that Amazon should pay its workers a higher wage so that Americans aren’t subsidizing the wages of the corporation’s employees.

On Friday, Sanders said, “While Mr. Bezos is worth $155 billion and while his wealth has increased $260 million every single day this year, he continues to pay many Amazon employees wages that are so low that they are forced to depend on taxpayer-funded programs such as food stamps, Medicaid, and subsidized housing just to get by.” Sanders also cited a stat that the median wage for an American Amazon worker is $28,446. In 2014, the average income for a single-person household in the U.S. was more than $65,000, but adjusted gross income equated to $34,940.

There have also been numerous reports of poor, ultra-competitive working conditions inside Amazon. Earlier this year Amazon topped a list of companies whose employees relied on SNAP.

Amazon has fired back, however. The company says that it does give employees competitive pay and quality benefits, and the median salary for full-time Amazon employees is $34,123.

“Senator Sanders continues to make inaccurate and misleading accusations against Amazon,” Amazon said in a statement published on its website. Amazon says Sanders has had several opportunities to visit one of its fulfillment centers, but hasn’t yet done so.

Amazon says it created 130,000 new jobs in 2017, and that any Amazon workers who qualify for SNAP (formerly known as “food stamps”) were temporary or part-time workers who should qualify for the financial aid program. Amazon also notes that full-time employees have access to health insurance, disability insurance, company stock, and a retirement savings plan, as well as up to 20 weeks of paid leave.

Sanders has since accepted Amazon’s offer to visit a fulfillment center, which Amazon shared on Twitter.

Still, Sanders has a point. The median computer scientist salary is just over $76,200, and the median Amazon employee wage is under half that. If that’s the median wage, that means there are a significant number of full-time employees with salaries below that number—and that’s not a livable wage in much of the United States.

While some of Sanders’ stats may be inaccurate or exaggerated, it’s clear that Amazon—and other major American corporations—could be doing a better job of distributing its wealth.

H/T Business Insider

Christina Bonnington

Christina Bonnington

Christina Bonnington is a tech reporter who specializes in consumer gadgets, apps, and the trends shaping the technology industry. Her work has also appeared in Gizmodo, Wired, Refinery29, Slate, Bicycling, and Outside Magazine. She is based in the San Francisco Bay Area and has a background in electrical engineering.