- Bezos refused Sanders’ call to testify at a hearing, but the senator gave him harsh words.
- Sanders has criticized Amazon’s confrontation with the union campaign in Alabama despite the CEO’s record wealth.
- The session included testimony from a pro-union worker at Amazon Bismiller’s warehouse.
- See more stories on the Insider business page.
At a Wednesday morning hearing, Senator Bernie Sanders spoke critically of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Who turned down Sanders’ call To testify, and Elon Musk, the two richest men.
In his opening remarks at the Senate Budget Committee session, Sanders said, “Bezos and Musk now have wealth over the lowest 40%. Meanwhile, we are looking forward to more hunger in America than at any time in decades.” The Crisis of Income and Wealth Inequality in America.
Sanders said, “If he’s with us this morning, I’ll ask him the next question … Mr. Bezos, your fortune is $ 182 billion – that’s B.” “One hundred and eighty billion dollars, you are the richest person in the world. Why would you do everything in your power to prevent your workers in Bessemer, Alabama, from joining a union?”
The union pressure being voted on at the Samir Fulfillment Center in Amazon has been a focal point of a high-profile labor dispute between the giant “Everything Store” and the retail, wholesale and department store consortium. Amazon has it Strongly pushed its workers To vote against unions, and launch a campaign entitled “Do It Free of Charges” to encourage workers to uphold the status quo.
Sanders noted the discrepancy between the growth of Bezos’ fortune during the pandemic and the struggles of ordinary workers.
“Jeff Bezos has become $ 77 billion richer during this horrific epidemic, while hundreds of thousands of workers who work at Amazon have been denied paid sick leave,” he said.
Jennifer Bates, a Bessemer warehouse employee who testified at Wednesday’s hearing, said the unions’ efforts were an attempt “to create a level playing field”. Bates cited difficult working conditions, long working hours, and job insecurity as the main driving forces in union efforts.
“Amazon prides itself on paying workers above the minimum wage,” she said. “What they don’t tell you is the reality of these jobs. They certainly don’t tell you what they can handle.”
When asked what it means to have a union for her and her co-workers, Bates said it would “amplify” their voices and “sense of empowerment,” not just in the Amazon in Bismir but across the country. “
“We take employee comments very seriously, including Ms. Bates’ comments, but we don’t think her comments represent more than 90% of her Fulfillment Center colleagues who say they recommend Amazon as a great place to work with friends and family,” an Amazon spokesperson told Insider. We encourage people to talk to hundreds of thousands of Amazon employees who love their jobs, earn at least $ 15 an hour, receive comprehensive healthcare and paid vacation benefits, prefer direct dialogue with their managers, and vote for Amazon at number two on Forbes’ Best of the List. Employers in 2020.
While much of the hearing has been devoted to fighting joining Amazon unions, which will be decided at the end of March, Sanders said “Amazon and Jeff Bezos are not alone” and denounced “corporate greed” that leads to income inequality.
Among those who testified at the session was former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, who said that unions matter and cited the sharp decline in union membership since the heyday of work in the mid-twentieth century.
Sanders has been an outspoken critic of Amazon, however President Joe Biden took a softer approach In reference to the union drive. In a statement earlier in March, Biden condemned “anti-union propaganda” from the big companies, but declined to name Amazon.