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Union president: Amazon's 'progressive workplace' claims are 'outrageous' and 'tone deaf'

Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), on Thursday said Amazon’s claims that it is a “progressive workplace” are “outrageous” and “tone deaf.”

Hill.TV’s “Rising” co-host Saagar Enjeti asked Applebaum what he made of a recent public spat between Rep. Mark PocanMark William PocanThe Memo: The pre-Trump 'normal' is gone for good Overnight Defense: Pentagon pitches 5B budget | Kamala Harris addresses US Naval Academy graduates Pentagon pitches 5B budget with cuts to older weapons MORE (D-Wis.) and the Amazon News Twitter account.

The online squabble was sparked when Amazon's CEO of Worldwide Consumer Dave Clark tweeted, “I often say we are the Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill's Equilibrium — Presented by NextEra Energy — Tasmanian devil wipes out penguin population Overnight Health Care: Medicaid enrollment reaches new high | White House gives allocation plan for 55M doses | Schumer backs dental, vision, hearing in Medicare Schumer backing plan to add dental, vision and hearing coverage to Medicare MORE of employers, but that’s not quite right because we actually deliver a progressive workplace."

“It's so outrageous, it's nonsense and it demonstrates how tone deaf Amazon is about what their own employees feel and think,” Appelbaum told Hill.TV. “What Amazon is saying is, ‘If we give people a $15 wage, that gives us license to treat them any way we want to, to disregard their health and safety to dehumanize them.’”

Appelbaum argued that Amazon could not call itself a progressive workplace when taking into account its “extraordinarily high” turnover rate.

“[Workers are] saying we can't take it no matter how much you pay us,” he added. “And let me also point out about pay ... that what Amazon pays is less than the median wage in Alabama. It's less than what workers get at other warehouses represented by the RWDSU in Alabama."

In a statement Friday, an Amazon spokesperson referred to Appelbaum as the union's "chief disinformation officer" and said he was "taking alternative facts to a whole new level."

"But our employees are smart and know the truth — starting wages of $15 or more, health care from day one, and a safe and inclusive workplace,” said Drew Herdener.

Updated on Friday at 3:39 p.m.