After Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) accused Amazon of paying its employees “starvation wages” while its CEO Jeff Bezos enjoys the billionaire life, the tech giant pushed back, calling the congresswoman’s remarks “absurd” and “just wrong.”
Speaking with ABC News’ “This Week” on Sunday, Ocasio-Cortez suggested Amazon was not fairly compensating its employees while Bezos, who has a net worth of roughly $118 billion, continues to fatten his coffers.
The freshman congresswoman clarified that she doesn’t care if Bezos is a billionaire as long as Amazon pays its workers a “living wage” and provides them with adequate benefits. But, she said, if Bezos’ wealth is “predicated on paying people starvation wages and stripping them of the ability to access health care,” then that’s a major problem.
Amazon hit back on Monday, saying in a tweet that it was “a leader on pay at $15 min wage + full benefits from day one.”
Jay Carney, Amazon’s senior vice president of global corporate affairs, accused Ocasio-Cortez of “making stuff up about Amazon.” The company told CNN in a statement that the congresswoman’s allegations were “absurd.”
But Ocasio-Cortez, a frequent critic of Amazon, had a rebuttal of her own.
She took issue with the company’s use of the term “from day one,” sharing a link on Twitter on Monday night to a Daily Beast story from September about Amazon employees living “paycheck to paycheck” and some relying on public assistance programs to make ends meet.
“If a person is working 40h/week & is paid so little that they need gov help to make ends meet, it’s not the person that’s a weight on our system ― it’s the company,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
Amazon raised its minimum wage to $15 per hour last year after facing public pressure to do so. The company said at the time that its public policy team would also begin lobbying for an increase in the federal minimum wage.
“We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead,” Bezos said in a statement of the wage increase. “We’re excited about this change and encourage our competitors and other large employers to join us.”